WHAT

So What Y’all know about being stuck on the couch for 2 days all swollen up and feeling like I had just run a 20 mile marathon when all I did was spend Monday creating and cooking? Now admittedly, I may have been a bit extra. I may have been on my feet for a few hours but I thought I was OK because I was standing still, mostly. The last time I had this bout of extensor tendonitis, cause that’s what Google said it was, was when I decided to walk a mile worth of laps in the pool. This time, I was simply standing at the counter prepping all my fresh veggies and marinades for my healthy meals throughout the week. I had promised myself that I would stick to my goal of eating at home every day this week. In order to accomplish this feat, I had to food prep and cook. Now I might have vaped a little and lost track of the hours I spent on my feet, but I was feeling good…in my mind anyway. See, I had this massive To Do list and I was determined to finish everything I had to do in the kitchen so I could get back to this writing by Tuesday. That was MY plan, but clearly my body rebelled and God colluded with my body by sending rain for two days. As my folks suffering with any Auto Immune disease knows, rainy weather wreaks havoc on your bones, and in some cases your nerves. I woke up Tuesday morning and couldn’t even walk. My left foot felt like someone placed a stinging lump of hot coal on top of it. But, I am glad to say I learned to not spend all day in a pout, angry at my body. This time, I realized my error and accepted that 50+ ain’t like 20-something and maybe cooking is now considered exercise. I always ask God to help me deal with the pain during these episodes and I swear each time the Holy Spirit whispers, “I ain’t tell you to do all that. You’re doing way too much.” I know my Overachievers feel me. This time, I emotionally recovered quickly and even did some self-care by icing my foot and being still. I was a bit disappointed that Wednesday morning brought no relief, but again I figured that the physical healing would come with the next sunny day, today Thursday.So, What this forced immobility caused me to do was to finally add some words to my memoirs. I couldn’t ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit while stuck on my butt with all of these electronic writing devices at my disposal. I have been talking about this book for the past decade and honestly that’s mostly all I have been doing. I am currently writing the more painful parts of my story and with each word, I realize that the emotional pain is deeper than I care to acknowledge. This realization has caused sudden Carb Cravings, Netflix binge watching, cannabis candy and any other form of procrastination I can think of to delay the word purge. After putting down a couple of chapters I admit it felt cathartic. Now I have just got to keep it going. I figure this time, instead of making broken promises to myself, Imma let the herb do what it do and keep on pushing this book out. This writing challenge has gotten me in the habit of at least writing 250 words a day. Not sure why I never employed this method before, although everyone has told me to. #HardHeaded

So, What I’ve learned is that although cooking is my passion, this is now my writing season. I was watching Joyce Meyer the other day and she was talking about there being a season for everything under the sun. It was then that I finally got it that my writing season was now in session. Instead of me spending excessive time on domestic stuff, I need to spend time on my gift of writing, which someone is waiting on. My other lesson is that I need to get the hell out of the house to write effectively. As much as I would like to think I have gotten more disciplined, I haven’t. Sigh. This is why I’m here at the Wegman’s ,AKA everyone’s home office, knocking out this post to keep up my writing mojo. Just a little glimpse into Wani’s World. Until next time, Be Abundantly Blessed!

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Things My Mama Used To Say

 

Today’s writing prompt for the #30DWCDay21 #WritingChallenge is to write about a favorite quote that has stuck in my head ever since I heard it.  Now I know there are many other profound philosophers that I can quote but sometimes the simple stuff just sticks with you.  My Mother had a knack for pulling out those good old Trini sayings at the most appropriate times.  There was something about hearing those simple bits of wisdom in that lilting, melodic accent she had that drove the point home every time.  Ms. Atlanta was quick with the wit and she could steupse with the best of them.  All my Trinis know exactly what I mean by the steupse, eh?  Anyway, I had to pay homage to her by sharing some of these sayings that have gotten me through my adult years with their basic wisdom.  Here are my top 5 favorites.

 

  • Blood Is Thicker Than Water

My mother emphasized this to me and my siblings early on to teach us always to have each other’s back. You know how when you become a teenager, sometimes even in middle school, you want to distance yourself from your siblings due to embarrassment?  She always told us that no matter how close you think you are to your friends, when it comes down to it they will choose their blood family over you and we should do the same.

  • Everyone skinnin’ and grinnin’ in your face is not your friend.

This was drilled into me time and time again because I was always the one bringing home new “friends”.  It took me awhile to get this concept but it started me on my quest for discernment of who truly meant me well.  I guess she was a good judge of character and could tell who had an agenda over who was my real friend.  This advice really came in handy when I moved overseas and had to navigate social life without any family as a safety net.  I even had this phrase ringing in my head when I entered the corporate world and had to move craftily amongst the snakes on the come up.

  • It Don’t Take Nuttin’ Off Yuh To Say Good Morning

Growing up in New York, I prided myself on giving everyone the blank face.  To me that was the NYC way, show no emotion.  Mama wasn’t having any of that.  If we came out of the house and there was someone on the elevator, she would say Good Morning or Hello.  She didn’t care that was not the norm in the big city, she decided to keep her island polite sensibilities.  If I acted like I didn’t want to speak, I would get the swift backlash in front of the stranger.  You know I complied to avoid the wrath and the embarrassment.

  • Eh Eh, I Thought Yuh Die A Natural Death

I got this every time I hadn’t spoken to my Mother in a while.  Actually, she said this about anyone she hadn’t heard from in some time.  I would always jokingly retort that the phone works both ways.  She cracked me up because we never really went any length of time without speaking, only in her mind.  She could be complaining on the phone about how no one calls and no one visits but I hear my brother in the background at the house.  I swear this is the same thing I hear from all my senior island Aunties.  Why do the old folks throw shade? LOL Gotta love them though and I sure do miss them now.

  • 2 Man Rat Cyan Live In De Same Hole

My siblings and I heard this all through our teenage years until we got put out.  Basically this is a way of saying we weren’t running anything but our mouths in Atlanta’s house.  She was the sole authority and if we didn’t want to adhere, we had to get out. Period.  I think the only one of us that didn’t get put out for a period was my youngest brother, only because she was tired by then.  Now, I never had kids but when I listen to stories from friends dealing with their teens, I can’t help but think of this phrase.  Hell, even when I had roommates I had this phrase ringing in my brain.  I eventually realized that I am not cut out for sharing my space, I need to be the boss…well now that I’m married I guess I had to relax that a bit.

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The Other Side Of Gay Marriage

So, I got married Good Friday to my partner of the past ten years.  Leading up to the day, I kept being asked how I felt and was I excited and my answer, much to everyone’s consternation, was always the same…not really.  Now let me explain, I want to break this down from my viewpoint so it won’t ever need to be asked of me again.  As I have stated in previous posts, this is not because of any lack of love for Johni, my real “Ride or Die Chick”.  It’s more because of having to face the rejection from my blood family because of my “chosen lifestyle”.

Although I put on a brave face for the public, I don’t like rejection either and I have spent years learning how to erect the wall before the fiery darts hit me.  Fiery darts in the form of hurtful words or sentiments regarding my life, not lifestyle but life.  Gay is who I am.  Puberty did not arrive and I suddenly had to make a choice about girls or boys, I always loved women. Period.  A Believer in the Most High is also who I am and who I have always been.  These two things are NOT mutually exclusive, despite what those who don’t get it think.  Trust me when I tell you that God and I have had innumerable conversations about this topic over the years and we’re good with the current situation.

First off, I never really had any concern with the concepts of marriage or children.  I considered myself way to impetuous to be laden down with either.  That may be selfish, but as they say, “To Thine Own Self Be True”.  Plus, being gay, I never imagined that these things would be part of my life equation.  Marriage JUST became legal in the past few years, so I’m trippin when people keep saying, “It’s about time”.  Like I was holding back on making her an “honest woman” or something. Honestly, it wasn’t on my radar when we initially got together.  Plus, none of my “model couple” friends, who have been committed for over 20 years are married and they are extremely blessed.  I figured we were good.  My emphasis has always been on making the actual relationship work and the ceremony/celebration can come afterwards.  I know quite a few couples, both hetero and gay who did all the pomp and circumstance and still ended up crashing and burning in fiery separations.  At first I even resented the push from friends to get married because I felt like I already was.  I mean a relationship is work.  Like Common said in “The Light”, “You know I ain’t the type to walk around with matchin’ shirts
If relationship is effort I will match your work
”.  I felt like once I said “Hey, let’s build something together”, I was all in.  I didn’t think a piece of paper would change anything about the effort I was investing into this relationship.  I didn’t need the validation of the government when I knew that God put us together, because we have both been consulting Him all along.  Anyway, this was just the top layer of reasoning.  The root was even deeper.

I didn’t even want to deal with the real reason for my reluctance.  I had to let the blunt cry for me on this one.  I was forced to face the facts during my conversation with my sister-in-law yesterday.  She texted me to confirm that I indeed got married on Good Friday and why didn’t I tell anyone in the family.  Once the answer formed in my brain and the words were typed, the old wound was reopened.  “Why? nobody in the family wanted to attend so…”.  Then of course the phone call ensued and I had to explain my position to her.  Once I heard myself verbalize the complete answer, the bleeding was unstoppable.  I refused to let my voice crack when explaining how I wanted to avoid the painful rejection of realizing that my sententious siblings couldn’t set aside their views to celebrate my happiness with me.  Although I have and always will consistently support their life events and their children’s events…simply because I love them and we are blood.  If religion is the reason then let me point out the hypocrisy.  Even Jesus hung out with sinners. Like Jadakiss said on Rapture, “If you ain’t God it ain’t in your actions to judge It is what it is turns into it was what it was”.

In my opinion, what is being conveyed when family chooses not to support me because of my “lifestyle” is that we’re cool but you really think I’m going to hell because I am gay and you want to distance yourself from that.  Also, I’m great to eat and joke with, I’m good to babysit my nieces and nephews but not good enough to celebrate my type of love.  As if celebrating me finding someone to love me unconditionally, just as you all did, will contaminate you somehow.  But, it’s fine, because I forgive you and I made peace with this a long time ago.  It was just hard reopening old wounds that I thought had scabbed over permanently.  I have been to a few gay weddings where the situation was similar.  All the supportive friends gather around the happy couple but the unspoken pain of no family members being present is palpable.  I guess that’s why real family is more than who shares your DNA.  This is also why there is an LGBTQ community, to hold each other up for life events such as this.  I never wanted to be that couple, but now that it’s been done and I survived, I have reached another level of freedom.  I’ve also reached another level of faith, because you know God always has that ram in the bush.

Connecting with my Cayonne family has been one of the best things to happen to me in my life.  The unconditional love from all of them, from Trinidad to Toronto to Cali and NYC, has been so affirming.  They all met me and accepted me for exactly who I am, along with my life partner, my wife, no questions asked.  None of them are gay, as far as I know, yet there was no judgment about my “lifestyle”.  No judgment, only respect and love, as it should be.  I even discovered new family members living right here in Maryland who despite meeting me only back in February have embraced and supported me thoroughly.  The circumstances of our meeting were so random that only God could have orchestrated this blessing.  Shout out to Auntie Eastlynne, James and Regine.

God is so awesome that even when I didn’t know how to celebrate the blessing of love that He hooked me up with, He sent friends and family to show me how.  I will be forever grateful for this.  Now that I’ve had this wedding ring on for the past few days, I admit that I smile whenever I see the glint on my left hand.  Saying “my wife” is getting more natural rolling off my tongue.  The best part has been receiving well wishes from people I didn’t even know were watching on social media.  As I am learning, it’s the kind words and small gestures that mean the most in life…these things give me life.  So, the next time you want to skip a family member’s gay wedding because you don’t support the “lifestyle”, please consider putting aside to your beliefs to show unconditional love, you know, like the Jesus you believe in said to do.  Until next time, Peace and Blessings.

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Suicidal Thoughts

 

So today, for the third time in the past few years, I was informed about a person that I knew who committed suicide.  For the 3rd time in the past few years I found about a life that was lost due to something that seemed preventable.  Although I only casually knew these people, through work, church and partying, it still saddened me to the point of getting the lump in my throat because I wonder if they knew how much they were loved.

Like I said, I didn’t even know them deeply, yet they touched my life in some way.  I can’t even fathom the sorrow their true loved ones feel from their loss.  I haven’t really had many suicidal thoughts but I have people in my life that struggle with this continuously. From hearing their stories, I’ve learned compassion for the victims of this illness.  I never understood that it was a true mental illness, these episodes of deep depression and despair.  I never knew how easy it was to slip into rationalizing how much better your children would be if you were dead.  I never knew how grief over losing a partner could consume you until you just had to be with that lover again.

What always gets me is how well each person can mask the darkness they are battling. Two of these friends were bubbly and encouraging every single time I encountered them.  As a matter of fact, the last time I saw the woman I knew from church, she had come to support me at my Mother’s funeral. I was so sad walking out of the church behind the casket and she made sure she waved me down and told me she was praying for me. The other young lady was a co-worker who I was cool with but her aloof demeanor didn’t give me the impression that she was dealing with any type of sadness.  I hope they forgive my ignorance.  Clearly there is no typical suicidal person, the disease is indiscriminate.

What also strikes me is how at all the memorial services, so many people testify about how these people affected their lives in such glorious ways.  I am always left wondering, did they know they were loved this much by so many people?  Since they were in such emotional pain, I don’t really judge them for the act that so many others deem selfish.  I figure they are at peace with God now because that contentment eluded them on earth.  However, I do wish that if they were aware of how much their essence would be missed that they might have delayed the act.  In some people the pain is so great that suicide is inevitable, like in the movie “The Secret Life of Bees”.  Unfortunately, their brokenheartedness leads to their surviving loved ones being broken-hearted and perpetuating the vicious cycle of emotional pain that they died to escape.

Anyway, I just want to implore everyone to please let the people in your life know that you love them.  Sometimes an unexpected kind word, even from a casual coworker, can keep the dark whispers at bay long enough for someone to decide to live another day.

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Why We Do What We Do: The Case For Faith

This month I am taking part in a writing challenge to prompt me to be more consistent with my writing.  I will be posting some topics from The Speak Write Challenge to vary my content.  I have shared the link on my FB page for anyone interested in joining the challenge.

Today’s topic is “Why We Do What We Do”.  What motivates us to be the people that we are?  I’m talking about both the good and the bad. If we are to be honest about it, at least in my own life, I find myself asking “What keeps me from doing what I should be doing”?.  I mean we all can cite reasons for being on our grind, on our search for success, spiritual connection or whatever.  Many people grind for their kids or to achieve material goals or career goals.  I think that both our motivations and lack thereof is what really completes who we are.  There is a reason why we have the Jay Zs and Bill Gates of the world and then we have the dudes who pump gas and work at the 7-11 up the street at 55 years old, right?  I would like to think that gas station dude didn’t start off life with this as his career goal, but this is how it ended up.  I am intrigued by the traits that separate the ambitious from the settlers.  Sometimes life just chews you up and spits you out and you end up barely maintaining because you are emotionally drained.  Other times though, you get your swagger back and decide to fight for your blessings.  I believe that the difference between both types of people is faith.

In terms of my motivation, I strive to use my gifts of gab and wordsmithing to inspire others before I leave this earth.  I fear dying and having to answer to God why I squandered what I was blessed with.  It might sound cliché, but for me it’s very true.  This is the anniversary of God sparing my life from a heart attack last year and I am sure I am still here because I have work left to do.  Over the past few years it has been revealed to me that I am a leader at heart and I need to stay engaged in spreading love and wisdom to be satisfied with my life.  My health has prevented me from having a conventional job in recent years, but I can contribute to society by sharing my life’s lessons through writing.  I still hesitate to call myself a “writer” but I can’t deny that this ability springs from my soul.  I have a natural curiosity about everything so I can always find some subject matter to analyze and glean wisdom from.  My other motivation is my family, especially the younger generation.  I don’t want them to always think of their Auntie as the crazy weed smoker with arthritis and no job.  I would like to inspire them to express themselves and utilize every gift and talent they have been blessed with, despite any obstacles that come their way.  I feel that I need to be an example of the qualities that I want them to have; faith, hustle, integrity, compassion, wit and wisdom.

On the flip side, my days of procrastination, depression and laziness also contribute to the sum of me.  Although I know both practically and spiritually what habits I need to let go of, I am still puzzled by my own disobedience.  I can start off my day pumped up with a workout, prayer session and a healthy breakfast but by 2pm, I have wasted hours on the couch playing video games and watching TV.  My mentor told me that this form of procrastination is based in fear of not being enough.  I had to mull that over a bit before admitting that it was true.  That old perfectionism had returned. So again, I have to tackle the fact that I need to work on the fear factor that creeps up in so many insidious ways.  This is where the faith comes into play.

The only way I see to balance what I want to do and why I don’t, is through prayer.  I am learning the true meaning of the verse, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5). Basically the only way to stay on the righteous path, despite me succumbing to temptation daily is by asking Jesus, The Holy Spirit and God to help me.  Constantly.  And Yes, I distinctly ask all 3.  To be honest, I don’t really get the whole Trinity thing so I just ask everybody.  Can’t hurt right?

I have found that spending time with God increases my faith.  When I slip up and let the days lapse in between my dedicated prayer and meditation time, essentially being apart from God, that’s when the depression creeps in and zaps the faith I built up.  After attending the Global Leadership Summit for the past 4 years, I have observed very prominent business, political and creative leaders share the core of their success and it is their faith.  I am sure they get discouraged at times but over the years, after building up their faith muscles, they know definitively that they will be victorious.  Since we are all unique, this faith muscle is developed differently in each of us but the key is to intentionally build it up.  Intentionality goes a long way in spiritual development.

So to bring this back around to my original reasoning for what makes me who I am, and who I would like to be.  At my core is a fierce faith that allows me to experience the highs and lows of life but still know that God’s got me.  My faith pushes me to do better and affect mankind positively.  My faith also lets me forgive myself and not be consumed by my flaws because I know God loves me unconditionally.  I may have temporary lapses, but I am not consumed.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 states that God’s plans for us are for a great future.  The passage goes on to explain that once you pray God will hear you, answer you and restore you.   When I find myself sliding too far down the dark hole, I remember this verse and get motivated all over again.  Faith is really the only way to connect who we are now with who we want to become.  I strive to become a better version of myself everyday so I will continue to intentionally seek spiritual knowledge which builds my faith muscle.   Until next time, Peace and Blessings!

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The Ghosts We Face

 

So, this morning I woke up with a need to reach way back into my Bitter Bitch bag and spill some of this vitriol from my soul.  Since I reached my half century mark a few months back, I really have zero F’s left to give about how people perceive me.  The reality is that I spent so much time giving a shit and building these emotional walls that I even masked from myself how sensitive I really am.  This is probably the reason that these episodes affect me so deeply.  Today I want to talk about this thing called “ghosting”.

For those who may be unfamiliar, “Ghosting” is when someone abruptly ends a relationship without any type of direct communication. I don’t believe this is a new phenomenon, just as with everything else, it has gotten more common because of this digital age we live in.  Since many relationships are sustained these days by social media and texting, it feels more pronounced when even this minimal form of engagement disappears.  There are a couple of types of ghosting; one is experienced after bad dates and the other happens between what were thought to be genuine friends.

Not to justify, but many of us are guilty of the first kind of ghosting, even me.  I remember I showed up for a date that I met online and shawty told me she was feminine and professional, and in person she looked like a broke Rick Ross. Umm, that was not you in the picture Sir!  I couldn’t even keep a straight face so I just left…got ghost.  I mean, I figured she knew she lied so I couldn’t even feel guilty.  When the person is a casual acquaintance or a Tinder date we feel like we don’t owe them any type of explanation because “we don’t even know them like that”.

To me, the most emotionally damaging type of ghosting is when it happens between longtime close, or so I thought, friends.  Like, whoa.  This means that I totally misjudged your character for years and you know my intimate business.  Now I’m doubting myself, wondering what event triggered this and can it be fixed.  Driving myself crazy replaying previous conversations in my head, my anxiety and obsession on full throttle.  It takes me awhile to convince myself that I need to drop the guilt.  Then I get pissed off, thinking about all the apparently fake ass conversations that took place over the course of the relationship.  I’m thinking, what red flags did I ignore?

Perfect example of this is my last ghosting experience.  I met her about 8 years ago and she pursued me for the friendship, then she disappeared suddenly after a few months of deep conversations.  It bothered me then but since I hadn’t known her that long, I let it go, but my gut was bugging me.  How do you go from texting me and calling regularly to nothing? It’s not like we were dating so it couldn’t be on some emotional shit.  After advice from a mutual friend, I decided to show compassion and no judgment when she suddenly reappeared right around Thanksgiving with a story and an apology.

This became her pattern for the next few years and it was cool with me. I understand the need to withdraw from time to time to refocus. I understand that life gets in the way and time slips away.  She reiterated our “family” status every time we spoke and would always seek me out for prayer and advice. I’m a sucker for the whole prayer thing, if you ask me to pray for you, I take that seriously. I believe this is how I got played.  I was so busy trying to be a prayer warrior that I ignored the pattern of disrespect to herself and others. I should have known that same disrespect would be aimed at me in time. Gotta watch how people move with others, it won’t be long before they move funny-style with you too.  She was always supportive of anything I was involved in so I guess I had no reason to suspect anything was awry.  Anyway, after a couple of months, I noticed that my calls and texts weren’t being returned so I took the hint.  I hadn’t unfollowed her social media though so I saw a post that my intuition told me was about me.  I was like hold up, what is this cowardly nonsense from someone who prides themselves on being so confrontational?  It’s so crazy how people are quick to do some dramatic shit like air out their grievances on Facebook but not simply confront the offender in person.  I mean picking up the phone is easy, just like you picked it up to ask for money or bend my ear asking for prayer and advice. WTF?

There are a couple of reasons why people ghost someone.  Some people think “we’re sparing the other person’s feelings because being honest would hurt them worse”.  Nah, we just want to spare ourselves the emotional drama of having to explain exactly what is “wrong” with someone else.  This is that passive-aggressive, non-confrontational, weak AF approach.  Being honest with others about what you think about them can be painful so many people simply avoid it by disappearing.  This also avoids witnessing the pain on the ghostee’s face when the rejection is experienced.

According to Psychology Today, there is a link between social rejection and the biological reaction of physical pain. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much) Unfortunately, this type of emotional pain is the core of many opioid addictions because rejection of any form chips away at a person’s self-esteem.  But that’s a subject for a later time…

The other reason for this immature approach is, because like Common told Ice Cube back in the day, “I see the Bitch in You”. Real Talk.  When you have built a relationship by presenting yourself to be something you are clearly not, the shame eventually gets to you and poof, you’re gone.  Once you realize that people have accepted you without judgment, you can’t believe it because you don’t deem yourself worthy.  Now you must sabotage the relationship and make the other person out to be the villain.  You are ALWAYS the victim, right?  Nah, we all do ratchet shit and the truth is you need to accept yourself as you are, just like your friends do, just like God does.  Once you realize that it’s fine to let someone know what offends you and discuss solutions without losing your value, you will no longer need to be the victim and get ghost.

Bottom line, Ghosting is the ultimate form of psychological cruelty because it leaves the Ghostee unable to determine how to process the event. When this happens between friends that you love and trust it especially feels like a deep betrayal. We all need closure but without communication we don’t even know what behavior to address.  Ghosting renders us powerless over expressing our emotions and beginning the healing process.  Despite the Ghoster thinking it’s not that deep, this act can leave deep psychological scars.  The best way to heal these scars is to go through the stages of grief over the loss of the relationship, pray for the offender, forgive them and let it go.  This process can range from days to years, everyone is unique.  I believe that everything occurs for a reason and perhaps this person was only meant to be in my life for a season.  I’m good with that.  But then the petty part of me reminds me that Karma is a Bitch and I don’t wish ill on anyone but…can’t say I wouldn’t smirk a bit if it happened. Yep, God is still working on me.   Until next time, Blessings!

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