Chapter Six: Freedom

Someone once asked Nina Simone what freedom means to her. “No fear” is what she said.

That’s powerful. Understand that our conditioning and socialization is based off of fear. We fear the consequences of things so we avoid doing or saying things. We are taught to literally hate certain aspects of others, with an underlying basis of fear. Fear that who or what makes up another person is a threat to us.

This is why people hate people who are gay, black, brown, spiritual, tall, short, homeless, rick, poor, etc.

We’ve been living in fear and some may not know it. Many may not understand it. But the saddest part is, few are doing little to nothing to break away.

There was a time when I lived heavily in fear. Fear of not being accepted. Of failing. At one point I literally feared living. I couldn’t imagine what the next moment could be and I didn’t want to know either.

Yet, here I am. Happy that I was able to somehow work through not only those moment of deep, dark fear, but that period of my life overall.

The other day I was thinking about some of the experiences that have shaped who I am today. I realized that I never really asked permission to be whoever I felt I truly was. I never asked permission to identify as something other than heterosexual, black, Christian, or anything else that’s changed in the last ten years. Don’t get me wrong, the moments in between those changes were….exhausting and scary. Way scary.

Freedom is having no fear and living your life in the most authentic way possible. What makes you happy? What do you want to achieve (because it’s never too late, there are soooo many avenues of achievement so don’t stifle your own growth)?

Figure out what freedoms means to you and start making the necessary changes to live. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. Be the most authentic version of yourself imaginable.

cc: nickolas sundberg


Chapter Five: Talk Yourself Into Some Things

How easy it for you to talk yourself out of doing something or going somewhere?  For me it’s one of the easiest things in the world.  I have *excuses* for days.  

I’m tired.  

I have work to do.  

I’m already in the house.  

I really just don’t feel like it.

I’m not a fan of some of the people who will be there.

My energy isn’t where it needs to be for that.

And the list goes on and on and on.

I had so many plans at the start of this year.  I don’t believe in resolutions but I do believe in being a better version of myself and enacting change.  So I had all these plans and then when it came time to go through with them I had all these reasons not to do them.

For the summer I decided that I was going to really put forth an effort, and let me tell y’all, this is some hard stuff.

Every week I have a game and a dance class.  Every week on the days they take place I find myself saying, “Oh I can just go next week because I’m tired.”  Or more recently, “This is the first class, if I don’t go it won’t matter.”  I even go as far as saying, “I just…can’t.”

Let’s be clear, I’m a homebody and I’m awkward beyond measure.  My social skills are questionable and my ability to relax is almost nonexistent.  But I told myself that I would break the habit so this past week when I began to talk myself out of these things I said, “Okay, you’re so damn good at talking yourself out of stuff, let’s try talking you into them.”

Then things got real.

For every reason not to go I had two reasons to go.  At one point I decided that going back and forth was useless because I was going to go through with it either way.  

I suppose in some settings this could be considered reframing or change talk, among other things.  But it actually works…for me.  It’s not about thinking about how happy I’ll be when the game or class is over, it’s about how happy, accomplished, and confident I’ll feel on my way there.  

It’s about the journey, not the destination, at least for now.

Yeah, there are benefits down the road that I look forward to, but that doesn’t help me now.  We as humans often get discouraged when we see the huge gap between the present and the future.  It’s kind of like when I do yoga.  I remember starting out I was so self conscious and felt defeated each time I did it, even at home.  But here we are, months later, and I feel a little more confident.  There were times I stopped because I felt like I would never get further than where I was.  But I’ve had to remind myself that every day I get one step closer to where I want to be.

That’s a life concept.

There are so many things we talk ourselves out of on a daily, for various reasons.  But I challenge you to do what I did, flip the script.  Realize just how good you are at not doing things and become just as great at doing them.  Imagine all the time that has gone by since you said you’d go to the gym, start writing, record music, take more adventures, go biking, or go out more in general.  Think about all the things you could have done, all the experiences you could have had, all the joy you could have felt.  

Now get out there and do it!  Or at least try.

And then keep going.

Once the season is over I’ll look for something else to get into.  Maybe I’ll advance to the next level of dance.  Who knows, but I’m going to talk myself into putting forth the effort to show up for myself.

Be Gentle With Yourself

📸: p.l.berry

Chapter Four: You Have to be Your Own Reason to Live

TW: Self-harm, suicide

I know this sounds crazy but, in the words of Rihanna “Who [are you] living for?” We all hold so many titles and positions in the lives of others but what title and position do we hold in our own?

I remember being in high school and going through so many issues.  Yeah, the usual stuff but the deep stuff was what got me.  Things weren’t great at home and I felt invisible everywhere I went.  I started cutting myself to feel some type of release.  I needed to feel and I had become so nonchalant about my situation it was like I was going through the motions.  

Even before that I remember being in elementary school and being teased with no end.  Coupled with what was going on at home I felt like it was pointless to be here.  Around this time I contemplated suicide two or three times with one attempt.  Crazy part is, no one knew.

The last time I cut myself was sometime in high school.  Honestly, I remember my mom crying once after seeing some of my cuts and the thought of that kept me doing it again.

When I got to college and started learning about mental health I felt like I had everything from depression and anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.  That was when I really began to pay attention to what my triggers were, understanding which feelings would manifest in which actions.  Do you not know how hard it is to love (I mean can’t live without) coffee but realize that you simply cannot have it if you’ve been emotionally unstable for a few days and unable to get out of bed????  Yeah, that part.

After graduation I moved a couple of times and then had a depressive episode.  There was so much disconnect, so much stress.  I couldn’t handle it.  I did end up cutting during that part of my life (I know, I said I stopped cutting in high school but I couldn’t ruin the story).  I was told I was selfish and didn’t care about the people who care about me.

It was all wrong.  I can’t believe it took me this long to understand something so gotdamn simple, I have to be my own reason to live.  As we all know, we aren’t perfect.  We don’t always live up to the expectations of others.  We barely live up to the expectations we set for ourselves.  How could I possibly value life if I didn’t value MY life?

A couple of weeks back I saw a post of someone who stated that their ex partner committed suicide because he couldn’t bare living without her and that his family blamed her for his death.

How crazy is that?  His family blamed her for his choice to take his life.  How could she possibly be the blame?  How could she possibly make him value his life without her in it?  How could she be responsible for mental health concerns that he probably dealt with all his life but no one knew, with this being the final straw?

This brings me to a sidebar: stop staying with people because they have mental health concerns (or even physical health concerns) if you don’t want to be with them.  They have to learn to value their own life.

There are parents and family members living with so much guilt because someone they love committed suicide and they feel they’re the blame, or someone is telling them they are.  But they aren’t.  The only thing that can be done to help someone feel better about themselves or about life is being a decent human being.  Be patient with people, show them love and kindness.  Show people you care.  

If it has come to the point where someone decides to commit suicide that means they haven’t received that, or enough of it.  It also means that they haven’t taken the time out to build it within themselves.  It doesn’t make them weak or selfish.  It makes them human!

I came from a pretty bad background, and I’ll spare the details at the moment.  I didn’t receive a lot of love or support.  Hell, I barely received love and support.  But I’m here.  I’m here because when it came down to it I chose to me.  I didn’t choose someone who chose me.  No, I told myself that I matter.  So I began to love on myself and understand that if I didn’t get it from anywhere else, I got it from myself.

This isn’t a once size fits all situation, so please blow out the torches.  I’m not here to place blame, I’m here to remove it.

Stop blaming yourself for the actions of others.  Stop allowing people to blame you.  And from this point on, remember to be that decent human being.  I hate when people say be careful how you treat or talk to people because you don’t know what they’re going through.  How about be careful how you treat and talk to people because you know what you’re going through, and what you’ve been through.  Shouldn’t that be enough?

You wont’ always know everyone’s story.  What makes them happy or angry.  You won’t always see signs of help.  But know that what you can do, what should do, is continue to love people for the sole reason that we’re all here together and we each deserve it.  No matter how horrible you think you are or how horrible you think someone else is, love for the sake of knowing what love should feel like.

-Be Light and Be Gentle With Yourself

📸 : p.l.berry

Chapter Three: Every Moment is a Teachable Moment

For all of four days I was in a seemingly simple situation that lead me to some complex realizations.

Remember that every single moment you encounter is a teachable moment.

We often think that the above statement pertains to us being the teachers.  In fact, we rarely take the role of the student.  With the way the world runs, especially the Western world, we are always striving for something better, never really humbling ourselves enough to truly be taught.  Taught beyond the surface layer of literary research and terminology.  No, we never really humble ourselves enough to search within ourselves, challenge ourselves, elevate ourselves so that we can become students who teach.

I say these things with so much passion because we refuse to identify as students until the things we are learning about happen to us.  We don’t care enough to do something and it’s kind of like a conceptualized idea that floats around in our mind but the answer will never really be found or embraced so there’s no need to put forth the time and energy.

This simple situation put me in the position to understand what that means.

We have two different kinds of internet connections at work.  One is a secured connection that is only for facility computers and the other is less secure but still password protected.  The second type is also what the general access computers are connected to.  I had someone approach me on Friday saying the general access computers didn’t work.  I said okay and did nothing about it.  Later that day I noticed that my phone wasn’t connecting to the wi-fi but didn’t think anything of it because I use a Comcast hotspot.  I went about the rest of my day.

Monday I attended a training and noticed that my phone was working fine with the wi-fi and thought maybe it was something wrong on Comcast’s end with that particular hotspot.

Tuesday I returned back to my facility and someone mentions the internet is still down.  Shortly after someone tries to use to pull up Netflix on the smart TV and I say, “Oh I guess they didn’t come fix the connection.”  My boss is there so I mention it to him and as he’s going back to check the hook up I realized my mistake.

Because I didn’t associate their problems with internet connection with my problem of connecting the wi-fi I felt as though it wasn’t pressing.  As my boss walked to the back I made the connection and realized this is exactly how top percent people view things.  There are tons of things going on around them and they think about helping, but it’s not a matter of dire importance.  It’s not until it hits too close to home, or hits home totally, that they begin to scramble to help.  

We’ve seen this happen throughout history with the war on drugs and now with the opiod crisis.

So what am I saying?  There are many situations in which we experience different kinds of privilege and we would be better able to see them if we begin paying attention to even the smallest moments of life.

Does this seem a little blown up, yes.  Is it a true reflection of my perspective in this situation, also yes.  Life is literally what you make it, and what you don’t make it.  Perspectives are tricky, even Lucifer can be seen as a hero.

Chapter Two: Truth and Disposition

I’m learning that attitude is everything.  Y’all, attitude is everything.  It dictates how you respond to people, how your day will go, how you feel about yourself.

My mantra for the last month or so has been, “Your disposition in life has nothing to do with me. My disposition in life has nothing to do with you.”

I recite this when I’m getting impatient or angry. I recite it when someone is treating me like crap, especially when I don’t know them.

We all wake up and experience this entire world in entirely different ways. That’s where the perception of truth comes in. I can say you cut me off in traffic, you can say there was plenty of room for you to switch lanes. I could allow myself to be upset or I can recite my mantra and understand that whatever I have going on that has me riled up has nothing to do with you. This allows me to reclaim my actions and engage in an appropriate or civil manner.

I especially love to remember this when others are being rude or mean. Man oh man, can you imagine how much love I have to conjure up to melt the cold ice inside? It’s easy to be hateful and rude, but to say that whatever you have going on won’t change how I interact with you is something entirely different. It’s about understanding that we all go through stuff and that stuff will change our perception, or truth, at every turn.

You ever have a great morning but by noon it’s the worst day of your life to date? Check in with yourself.

So when things start to get heavy just remember you have the option and ability to make every situation better, if not for others then do it for yourself. You deserve sunshine and rainbows and happiness.

Chapter One: What Does Your Soul Look Like?

I’ll be 28 this year and that’s so close to 30 it’s unbelievable.  

These last three months I’ve been doing shadow work, trying to face my fears, and really understand who I am.  Deepak is a cool guy and he has an alphabetical meditation on iTunes.  “M is for Mindfulness.”  That’s what has been popping up lately.  Out of all the music and media I have, this specific meditation has been following me.  What’s sticks out about it is that at one point he talks about everything changing, but the things that remain the same, concerning your identity, are the things that are truly embedded in you.

That’s some deep stuff.

It’s like, if you’re always anger no matter what the situation is, maybe anger is something that you can’t change.  But what happens when you don’t want to be angry?  

I’ve also been reading.  The Four Agreements and The Alchemist are some truly inspiring books to read, no matter what you believe.  To know yourself is to know Gaia and the laws that govern this world.  We give away so much of our power through bending to others and agreeing with even when we don’t want to.

Don’t bend so far that you break.

Over the last ten years I have agreed to so many things.  I’ve agreed to situations, transitions, labels, emotions, understandings, relationships, and prewritten chapters of my life.  Over the last eight years I’ve changed from being soft spoken and almost rigid to being a bit firm, and even abrasive.

Last night was the first time I recognized a characteristic that is intertwined in the makeup of my soul and it was like a breath of fresh air to see who I really am…and to accept it.  Over the last three months I’ve broken so many agreements because I know better now.  Understandings turn into innerstandings and in the process I realize that the Great I Am is indeed real.  

I Am.

I am everything I want to be and nothing that I used to be, and I say that with every ounce of love I have flowing through my body.

In the coming weeks, take time to get to know who you are, for real.  Take away the people who come and go, the places you inhabit, the jobs that allow you access your strengths and work on your weaknesses.  Get to know who you are at 8am, noon, 5pm, and midnight.  Get to know what you like, no matter the day, hour, or temperature.  Get to know your love, regardless of situation or person.

Get to know you.  Then you will know what your soul looks like.  And I can tell you right now, it’s beautiful.  Beyond the pain and hurt and happy times, you’re beautiful.

And of course, as always, be gentle with yourself.

*Expect new blog posts every third Friday of the month*

Book Three: Two Thousand Eighteen

Imagine me being hesitant about returning.

What do I write about? I don’t know much. In fact, in my quest for knowledge I found that I know nothing.

But I couldn’t abandon something that means so much to me. Something that depicts my growth. Something that isn’t necessarily for you, but is most certainly for me.

Look out because things are changing.

One post a month. More meaning. More depth. More searching.

I won’t apologize for any of my opinions. I hope you won’t apologize for yours either.

It’s all love and good vibes and I’m glad you’re still here for the ride.