Category Archives: Relationships

Learning to Speak Grow(n)

Like a toddler waddling the room reaching in the air for the right words, I find myself humbled by recent life experiences.  Each growth moment has demanded that I –umm—grow. The expansion has required a fierce commitment to transformation not only of myself but of each and every one of my relationships. This is giving new meaning to the phrase grown and sexyMouth out of service

I am not learning to speak French or Wolof so there is no Rosetta Stone to help me through this phase.  I am not learning to speak in public so a speech coach won’t do.   I have, however, benefited greatly from a circle of spiritual teachers.  Some of them trained practitioners while others are friends who have taken time to listen my story and share an experience or an insight.

Over the past 10 days I’ve had four conversations that in previous years would’ve been categorized as awkward, tense and would have fallen into the column of not happening.  Learning how to speak, to honor what’s most present for me without worrying about the outcome has been liberating.  It’s less like a toddler streaking around the house naked and more like a grown woman standing without clothes on, in front of a mirror appreciating and celebrating her own body with each of its imperfections.

As I vented and processed with two different girlfriends I realized the way these women cosigned my pressing the mute button on my own voice.  It’s what many girls are socialized to do. We’re taught to be quiet, to not rock the boat and that the truth is not nice. It’s also way too easy to succumb to playing the victim. Meanwhile my male friend insisted that I needed to speak up and out and directly to these people in my life who were out of integrity.  I also needed to give voice to new boundaries.  He challenged me to do this as a way to de-clutter and detox my mind.  In two instances I initiated communication by picking up the phone, and in two others divine order created the perfect ‘random’ meetings.

What’s the payoff of my  staying silent? I wouldn’t have to go through the growing pains and I could sit with the familiar, but I’ve found that the reward for walking through the difficulty is that I get the satisfaction that comes with honoring both my voice and my vision.  The uncertainty of how it will unfold is part of the adventure.  Sometimes moments like these are indicators that a relationship has come to an end, but in this case it wasn’t about endings.  I’ve preserved  relationships with people I care about, who love and care for me deeply and who are sharing the journey with me for purposes much greater than ourselves.

Indeed there are definitely times when it’s better to let things work themselves out and not give energy to them, but discernment is key.  Our gut will tell us the difference. I am finding that the more often I exercise these muscles of learning to speak, the more grown I feel.  I’m not sure if sexy is the word to describe my elation, but damn I’m feeling good inside my own skin.

Texting Tips— Because Communication is Everything

Text Msg Screenshot

Last night one of my little sisters sent multiple text messages and in one asked, “How ya’ been?”   I responded to other messages but not to that one.  She then texted me again to ask why.  Now, there are two types of messages that I put in my pet peeves category:

1) Hi.  Hey! What’s up? Yo’!

Please don’t just send me a two letter text. If you are thinking about me then say so.  If you miss me and my wonderful presence then share that. If you would like to talk soon then tell me; and

2)How are you?

Asking how I am doing via text unless it’s specifically related to an experience I am going through often feels like we are going through the motions of yet another social ritual that has little to do with expressing authentic care for another person.  Some think of it as a polite courtesy. I think of it as a waste of my energy.  Why not just wish the person well or send them blessings?

Then there’s the pressure of my right-brain, free-spirit condensing my response to fit inside a text messages. On some days that feels like prison to me.  My mom think it’s quirky, my cousin says I’m “special” and my ex- says it’s just plain weird.  Call it whatever you want, but if you want to know how I am doing either call me or send an email and be prepared for an authentic response.

These scenarios got me to thinking about text etiquette, manners and what makes sense nowadays.  I know I am not the typical communicator and one might even say my expectations are too high, but I wanted to share them nonetheless.  I’m sure there are few of you that might be pondering the same things. So here goes a few more text topics when it comes to etiquette:

  • It’s important to know when to text versus when to email or when to call. If you find yourself writing more than a few messages and each one is long, then you should probably go to email.  If the subject matter is dealing with an emotional issue or concern and you really want a reply, put your big girl pants on and call.
  • If you are seeking a response within a certain time frame then you should probably call the other person and if it is urgent, state that in the text and let the person know you will call shortly if you don’t hear back.
  • Do not send a text at 4 in the morning, 5 in the morning or even 6 am. Unless we are meeting each other for an early breakfast meeting and you need to cancel or you were supposed to meet me at the airport 10 minutes ago, it’s just not appropriate. Send an email or wait until calling hours.
  • Don’t initiate a text dialogue if you do not have time to reply.
  • Remember that you don’t know when a person will read or receive your message.  You have no right to be offended if the reply takes a while.  Sometimes messages don’t go through.  Sometimes messages come while a person is driving or walking in 10 degree weather. Sometimes the person you texted is busy-cooking, cleaning, changing a diaper...
  • If I just sent you a text message with facts or to ask a quick question, that text is not a request for you to call me right this moment. Do not assume that the sender is available to talk to you or wants to talk to you and have a full conversation. The exception might be that you are walking or driving and need to relay the info verbally.
  • If we haven’t talked in a while sign your name at the end of your message. People change phones, phones get stolen, phones crash. Don’t make up stories about your number being deleted and your being de-friended. (Yes, this has happened with my grown-up friends. Bless their hearts.)
  • Avoid texting sad news.  I remember being backstage putting on lip gloss and preparing to head to the podium to speak when my mom sent a text about my favorite great aunt’s death.  Bless her heart.  She wanted me to know, but it would have been better to find out after my speech.
  • Unless you are in a long, boring meeting where you cannot talk or on the Quiet Car on Amtrak, please don’t expect a 30 minute text conversation.  I have a friend who has a text limit. He says that if he receives more than 4 text messages you need to call him because ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’. Texting requires attention, time, energy and focus.
  • If we are in person and I am talking to you, please do not text on your phone without acknowledging that I was just talking to you.  Have the courtesy to excuse yourself from the conversation or don’t be surprised if I step away.
  • Oh, and those annoying holiday texts and holiday group messages! Last month an old friend wondered why I had not responded to her Happy Thanksgiving message.  She and I haven’t socialized in so long that she forgot that her friend is a truth-seeking, non-traditionalist who has never gone along with the crowd.     charlie brown thanksgiving

First, I don’t believe that generic “Happy ___________” or “Merry ____________” messages deserve a reply. There’s no effort in that kind of sharing. Tell me what you are thankful for, give me something that I can feel.

Then second, I get a lot of text messages on the big holidays and don’t care to expend energy typing replies. It’s my phone and my time, I can do with it what I please.

Finally, I don’t know about you, but I find the roots of this holiday to be quite disturbing.  I have yet to reconcile the history of feasting to celebrate the shedding of Native American blood. I do however, love that in our culture of individualism that there is a day set aside to focus on gratitude, but I am still seeking peace around this particular holiday.  

I know, I know most people mean well, but kindness and good intention don’t trump basic manners, consideration and common sense. Be mindful, be thoughtful and text with care.

Letting Friends Go: Acceptance

I have a friend who uninterested in my email updates and most of my good news insisted we talk. I had not talked to her in a very long time because she is in a different country and timezone and it was hard to connect, but once the call began I remembered the real reason why we hadn’t spoken. She brushes off much of my good news with “a yeah, yeah, yeah but you have an exciting life and there’s always a new adventure on Planet Toni”.

As I’ve deepened my spiritual relationship with myself I’ve become much more sensitive and attuned to the behaviors, feelings, attitudes and intentions of others. Sometimes I hate it but when I am grounded, I can read energy like an old medicine woman living on the mountaintop. I am still bouncing in and out of that space and some days the only ground underneath my feet feels 4 feet away. Like a kid in a candy store, my life still makes me high as a kite way too often. I have, however, healed enough to know what love feels like, and in the context of love, the people you have relationships with –support, encourage, honor, celebrate and accept you.  They don’t judge, play mental games or put you down and they definitely don’t brush away your joy like it’s lint on clothing.


Now, sometimes a friend can significantly reduce their interaction with you but then one day you wake up and realize it was something you were secretly desiring anyway. Instead of feeling bad about it, move towards acceptance.  As I move closer to acceptance of what is and learn to accept people for where they are on their journeys instead of me trying to convince them to be somewhere else, life becomes easier.  Sometimes their absence is simply a gift of abundance—more time and more room for me to focus on myself and my own healing. I am well and getting better everyday.

I am at peace this morning as I release those friendships that are no longer in my best interest. I am at peace with those relationships that need space and in acceptance that we may reconnect again later in life. I am at peace with those I need to love from afar. I am meditating on compassion this morning for we never really know why people behave the way they do. We humans can be really good at stuffing emotions and hiding our suffering.  People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I am at peace with whatever is to be. It is what it is. And so it is. Ase.