Tag Archives: letting go

How to Apologize and Why It’s Important

ApologizingEarlier this year I sent an apology note to someone. He appreciated it but said that he didn’t understand since the hurt he caused had been so much worse. I explained to him that my apology wasn’t really about him. It was a part of my forgiveness process. I promised myself that I would step into 2016 lighter, with a lot less baggage and with a clear heart.

When I was much younger I would write what my big sister, Adrea, and I called cleansing letters. They were long, detailed and dramatic. Each letter, filled with prose and poetry, required time and energy that would’ve been better spent working on material for publication or for the screen. This morning I give thanks for grounding, healing, emotional and spiritual maturity. Don’t get me wrong, I am an entrepreneur so some of those letters still might make the cut for the HBO special in my head, but my priority now is my own well being and truth. I am powerful. I am not a victim. I no longer beg for others to see their wrong doings.

Being accountable for what transpires in our lives is also a critical part of understanding forgiveness and apologies. *Sometimes we play a role in the experiences we attract. Be clear about the other person’s actions but be honest with yourself about how you may have participated.

I’ve been gangsta’ about my inner-work, emotional and energetic healing. This is not by choice.  It is a necessity. Stress and anxiety manifest as immediate physical symptoms in my body. After years of naturopaths and doctors, healing diets, hypnotherapists, acupuncturists, bodywork specialists, herbalists, spiritual counselors, energy healers, traditional priests and priestess, I have the data. My research has proven this to be true time and time again so I started this emotional cleansing. Guess what? As a result, I am also experiencing less illness.

Walking in the light, focusing on the light, practicing random acts of kindness, inhaling love, exhaling gratitude, dancing in forgiveness while honoring your boundaries will attract more goodness and abundance into your world than you can ever imagine. Choosing to love and be love is a daily choice. It is not easy some days especially for a drama addict in recovery but for me it means less pain in my body, fewer symptoms to worry about and good sleep.

When others feel your light it creates a safe space for apologies and authentic communication. (Note: this also creates space for love and gratitude to be shared with you as well!!) I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. I made a few notes from my experience with receiving apologies and wanted to share a few things with the world. Here goes:

  1. Make sure you’re ready to apologize. It’s not effective if you’re not able to fully own up.
  2. Focus on yourself and your stuff. Do not use your apology as a place to point out the other person’s wrong. Let them do that and be prepared for them not to own up to anything. Sometimes sorry is not enough and things will never be the same so focus on you.
  3. Be clear about what you are apologizing for.  You may need to rehearse it in your mind. I wanted to apologize for ___________, _______________ and ____________. I could have handled it differently. I was not being responsible and I did not honor you.
  4. Share what you have learned, new insights about yourself or life and the reasons why you will never do it again.

Being humble, vulnerable and transparent are important parts of the apology. Doing it without an expected outcome is also a healthy part of it because the apology loses its power when we have too many expectations attached to it. Remember it is not about shaming yourself but about empowering yourself through love and truth so you can lighten your load and hopefully contribute to the other person’s healing as well.

December is an auspicious time or at least that is how I have always viewed it. I do “spring cleaning”, set goals for the new year and give voice to my gratitude. My new year momentum starts in November and I ride a wave until it hits. The world may be in chaos and filled with all sorts of tragedy right now, but we control our inner-world and can choose to be filled with peace. Happy Healing Fam.

I thought about posting Ginuwine’s “I Apologize” but Abiah’s “Sorry” seems like a better fit. Check out this incredible musician and his latest release:

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How to Write the Truth: I’m Still Learning

Toni_1 - Copy-tifThe little girl in me wanted to write. Sleep in my eyes, teeth unbrushed and pillow imprints still on my face, I wanted to write but I couldn’t bring myself to sit with the word. Sometimes your heart wants to tell stories that are not yet meant to be told. Sometimes your words want to scream and holler in a way that your voice just doesn’t seem to support in this moment. This path of vulnerability that I have chosen and committed to pushes me to the edge of dealing with my stuff on a constant bases. There is no comfort zone except for the reality of knowing some of this self expression will stay safely filed away on my hard drive until I am ready.

I mean, I wanted to dive deep into the waters of friendship and sisterhood. There is the friendship with the woman who scheduled get togethers with me 9 times and 7 of those times didn’t even bother canceling. I released the relationship. Somehow in her mind she is a victim of something but I cannot figure out what. I made a few attempts at the Landmark style completion conversation then surrendered when I realized she wasn’t here for it. Of course, I could’ve, should’ve spoken to it after the third time but was still in a space of providing more compassion for others than for I did for myself. My time is valuable too – – yada, yada, yada. Some call it sucka shit but we all go through things. There is the friend I miss but her envy scared the hell out of me and the friend who was so judgmental that it felt like a toxic boyfriend. So these experiences inspired one of my most frequent chants of the year. It’s the affirmation: I let it go, I let it all go. I take full accountability for all that has transpired and I let it go.

Part of me would also enjoy the release of being completely naked and transparent about love, love relationships and matters of the heart but then we have to deal with how that impacts others, projects, business and image. One of my friends constantly reminds me to be mindful of my brand and intention. As a poet first and as a poet whose first pieces at 8 years old were rooted in calls for justice, fairness and truth, this part of adulthood feels completely wack. Why can’t we all just have an authentic conversation and confront these issues that plague so many of our lives? Oh, if only it was as simple as a conversation.

One of the most challenging issues is the one of a cousin who is bi-sexual and in a same-sex marriage. Some of the responses of family, God fearing, God loving, practicing Christian family members, constantly disappoints me. My heart has been broken more times than I can count. I sit quietly. I pray on it. I try not to lament on the absence of my grandma and grandpa from this earthly plane. I know how different our lives would be if they were still here. Then I remind myself and little Toni that there is no time machine and my dreaming will not bring them back to the physical. So I speak to them while on my knees and while in the shower as the water hides my tears I chant again: I let it go, I let it all go.

In my dreams, I am confident enough to tackle the most personal and painful of experiences with creativity, spiritual maturity and transparency but I’m not where I want to be just yet. This is still just an activity in my mind. Years ago I remember sitting in the African American Resource Center with E. Ethelbert Miller.  He was at his desk handing me a stack of poems marked up with red pen. There were 30 pages of text and at least 25 pieces, but he gave me five that he considered to be good poems. I suddenly realized I was far from the book I planned on publishing that semester. He watched both my ego and heart deflate right before his eyes as I sunk into the old wooden chair. Poet Carolyn M Rodgers Name

He began talking about a list of writers I should read as he set up a seat for me at a table with a stack of books with everything from Carolyn Rogers and early Don L. Lee to Alice Walker’s prose and Larry Neal’s critiques. There were journals from the Black Arts Movement and the Harlem Renaissance. As I stood up I could hear the big clock outside and see students scurrying across the yard below.  I remember many things Ethelbert taught me over the years but that afternoon he talked about the need for courage.  It takes courage to expose oneself.  Exposing your joy and your pain, your most sentimental feelings, your family stories – both the good and the bad, the struggles of life, the weaknesses and the strengths are all a part of the nakedness of being a writer. You may find a formula to become a popular writer but great writers are willing and able to write themselves naked and fully exposed on the page.

I can still inhale and smell the scent of old paper and books in the stacks of Founders library at Howard University. I also clearly remember how heavy my spirt was during those years. Ethelbert was a guardian angel to many of us. I am much lighter now and authentically happy, but I am still struggling to be a great writer. I am still learning how to write the truth, my truth. The blog format is like a gym to work out and build my muscles. Every once in a while I get on the scale to see where I’m at and today is one of those days. Three bomb ass writing prompts came to mind and I punked out on each one. I’m here laughing at myself as a way to not slip into the Virgodom of self-critique and thoughts of I-am-not-good-enough. Pressing publish on this post will serve as this morning’s creative accomplishment and thumbs up to an exercise completed. May your day be equally as blessed.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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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.

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Change, Change, Change and Letting Go

Sunset in Bahia

Post inspirations are coming in the quiet of the night/early morn. Somewhere between 3:30am and 5am, I find myself awake.  This weekend has been intense on so many levels.  After some weekend plans fell through, I turned my disappointment into a positive by using the time to focus on all of the change in my life.

Change is on the horizon.  I am packing for a move. I am releasing.  As I let go of that which no longer serves me, I am noticing the resistance. Why are we humans prone to holding onto the old? This convo makes me think about all the ways that we hold on—to friendships and old relationships that don’t nurture us anymore, to grudges, to pain from the past.

Here in my apartment I examine each piece of paper and each item of clothing as if it is connected to my person.  None of these things has ever given me life-force energy or love, but I act as if it’s wrong to let go. I’ve removed the CD collection from the plastic, thrown lots of CD’s away and am now looking at my bookshelf as if it’s an old lover who has me under a spell. When I moved into this place 5 years ago I condensed my book collection from two shelves to one.  Technological developments make it possible to get rid of all of it.  I could scan papers and photos, upload music and video, and get a lot of these books on an ipad or kindle.  Change is not only on the horizon, it is inevitable.

As we move into the summer, I am visualizing myself free from attachment to things and stuff. It is my intention to make room for the new—for new ideas, for new energy, for new relationships in my life.  I’ll never be a minimalist, but I am hopeful that I can evolve into the kind of person who values peace of mind more than material possessions. I often think of my friend who survived Hurricane Katrina.  He is a jack-of-all-trades kind of music guy, who lost his record collection, his books and all kinds of memorabilia. Once he began to confront the trauma and the loss he started to look at his life differently. He realized how many dreams he hadn’t lived and he went about the business of living his life a lot more full out.  Letting go of family and family expectations was not easy for him, but he says that even though a lot of the challenges he currently faces are directly connected to Katrina, he is grateful to 1)be alive and 2)to be able to choose life, to live life full out.

So, I’ve said ‘goodbye’ to lots of stuff and need to say goodbye to lots more as I prepare to change apartments.  Soon I will say hello to a new me.  She is a woman who understands that people are valuable, that love is critically important and that living a full life with the freedom ‘to be’ is more important than ‘things’.