Tag Archives: Grief

The Rain Will Fall Like Tears From The Sky…

 

Loss, even when expected, can be a mix of grief, mourning and fear of uncertainty. That not knowing what’s next thing. It’s such a big part of the human experience yet learning to manage our emotions and energy around it can make each loss feel brand new. It’s as if we’ve never been here before when in reality loss has knocked at the door many times before.

Some avoid the pain of loss by living a life of detachment.  They’re detached from dreams, hopes and love. They live from no instead of yes, from ‘maybe one day’ instead of ‘right now’ and with the past ever present as the gift of the present moment blends in with all that once was. It’s an unconscious resistance to ascension and expansion, an avoidance of pleasure and joy. It’s a version of playing small and living life at half-measure all in the name of avoiding pain.

Many of us say the right things, wear the right clothes, wear a face that projects something to the outside world that is in total contradiction to what is in our core. Living life authentically, loving fiercely and dreaming with my eyes wide open brings its share of growing pains, but I just couldn’t imagine stifling myself. I’ve been guilty of playing small and diminishing my own light. I’ve run from love and sabotaged opportunities. That’s why it feels so good to be liberated from those bad habits and be able to honestly say I have reprogrammed my mind and my spirit.

A number of people have told me they’re experiencing an intense transition this fall. This seems to be a common theme so I’m not surprised to find myself in the same space. Last week I had a series of conversations and events that in the past would’ve led me to hiding in my purple sheets, but this time I chose to stay connected to community, to reach out, to choose to focus on the good. I am doing things differently, breaking a few of my rules and finding ease because of it. Once a woman becomes of a certain age she has earned the right to define her own healing path.

My alarm is going off now. I’m sipping ginger root tea, breathing through a little discomfort in my body as the comfort food from the weekend reminds me of my commitment to detoxing today. Grief looks so different for me now. This Stevie-Sting performance made me cry. I haven’t cried in a few days. It was a good cry – like tears from a star as Stevie sings.

It reminds me of this guy friend from my long ago past. We sat there on a beach in Dakar at 4am after a night of freestyling, singing, dancing and beatboxing. A few other artists from the jam were with us. Orchestre Baobab was blaring from a boom box at the stand where we just bought poisson frit avec patates frites from a woman with the darkest skin, the whitest teeth and a smile I remember 15 years later. He says to me in thick French accent, “You know what I discover about you?” He paused for a moment sucking the fish from the bones then looked at me. “You are so strong, yet so fragile. Most would not know how fragile. Delicate may be a better word.”

He didn’t know that I didn’t know. He helped me to know myself better. I was discovering myself right along with him. After that trip I started owning my fragility, embracing those delicate parts of me without shame. I let go of the programming that told me I had to be strong all of the time. Today, I can stand in it without feeling weak or like a punk. There’s nothing left to defend anyway except maybe my dreams and my dignity. The rest? They can have it. I am giving myself permission to cry, to let the rain fall like tears from a star.

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You Think You Have Time

If tomorrow is not promised and life offers no guarantees, why do we live our lives as if we’ve got time? One of my favorite memes floating around social media is the Buddha quote below:BuddahTime1

We worry about things over which we have no control yet don’t act on the things we can control.  We worry about the past.  We worry about what others think. We even teach our children to worry because we are worried that they do not worry enough.

An uncle who was deeply loved by our family is being laid to rest today.  The first thing I read after waking was a poem my cousin wrote in response. It reminded me to be grateful for everything our elders gave us, that I would not be who I am without them.  Last night I performed at the Blue Note Jazz Festival with master pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs and the last song in the set was entitled “Thank You”.  Lines from the first verse of the song I wrote with my creative partner –

inner-light started to flicker/skin got thicker/soul got richer/now I see the picture/down but not out/quiet tears followed by shouts/through screams  streams/visualizing new scenes/new ways, new means/manifesting old dreams/Never thought that right could feel so wrong/Never thought that these lessons would keep comin’ on/Never thought that I would even live this long/Never thought that I could ever be this strong

I parked at a meter last night so I had to get up out and early to avoid getting a ticket.  After getting gas, I found myself at a Caribbean food spot on President Street and Utica Ave ordering callaloo, boiled green banana and white yam. CallalooBoiledPlantainIt’s quite different from the grits, eggs and bacon of my childhood and what I might have eaten at Uncle Maurice and Aunt Norma’s home.  It’s a reflection of not only where I live but of where I have been.  From the Bay Area to visiting 40 countries, living 12 years in D.C. and in July 14 years in New York minus the one year I spent in Philadelphia.  My comfort food breakfast provided the comfort I needed as I sit in my room wondering if I should have gone home for the services.

Then I remember that thing about time–not having much of it, not wanting to waste anymore of it on worry and sadness. I am right where I am supposed to be. I think about poets Sekou Sundiata, Jayne Cortez, Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou. These were lives lived so fully that their words, their legacies will breathe life for many years to come. My guiding thought today:  What are you creating, completing, giving birth to that will breathe life long after you have gone?

It’s way too easy to make proclamations about living fearlessly while we’re in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one who has died, but I am crystal clear about what my life shall represent from this day going forward.  I’ve had a breakthrough in gratitude and on the subject of living. It’s the kind of shift that will serve as a filter for bullshit- my own and that of those around me. It’s that keep-it-100 whether anyone is looking or not kind of shift.

Loving fiercely was a commitment I made for 2014.  Getting over myself and this habit of perfectionism, worrying what others think, and not being able to say no were also a part of my new personal manifesto.  I am fronting less in my relationships and allowing others the space to be uncomfortable as they adjust to my new vulnerability skills. My friends and loved ones understand that when I grow, “we” grow –together. Oh, our lives are so much richer because of it.  Now, we have more energy for things that really matter.

The biggest reminder I’ve gotten from recent events is that the only moment we really have is this one right here. It’s a reminder to hold your loved ones tight then release and to not fear loving.  I am focused on breathing deeply while inhaling love and exhaling fear, resentment and worry. List your top five dreams.  Then go for it. Stop making excuses for why you cannot lose the weight, cannot start the business, cannot take the classes, cannot have the kind of relationship that you want. Do the work. Begin with the inner-work and get into action. Once we surrender and get out of our own way we often realize that the only real problem is that we think we have time.

Rest in peace Uncle Maurice10385472_10203805365165318_386695138497654970_n