I haven’t written a blog in a while. I have a great excuse, I promise! You’ll see the fruits of that labor in time. Today though? Today we talk about celebration.
This specific spotlight is on one of my favorite people A’Kala Chaires. She just published her first book and while we screamed about its completion in my inbox, we ran into to celebration.
It’s so easy to move to the next goal once we’ve completed something. Is this cultural? We’ve been conditioned to achieve and keep on achieving. No matter what, accomplishment is never enough. We don’t break and we don’t breathe because “the hustle never rests.” I hate to be the one to tell you, but it does. It has to, otherwise all we are is burned out and unsatisfied.
I’ll be honest and say that I have grave fear of leaving this Earth with unfinished projects. I don’t want to be like many famous artist whose family have an arsenal of undone versus and notes to share. I want the world to see me full out and finished. I also know that’s not realistic and I have to rest.
I’ve written 12 books and I have only celebrated the completion of one. I never stopped to think about the milestone that came with doing that simple thing. I’d never finished anything in my life. I’ve had so many things in life that I’ve wanted to try that I would start and stop in hopes that I could do it all.
Finishing was a big deal.
It’s still a big deal. Now I owe myself 12 celebrations. More than that for the many other small victories in my life.
So to my friend, A’kala! CHEERS to you! Stop today and think about what you’ve done.
You’ve shared your art with the world which takes more courage than you know, because you’ve opened yourself up to criticism.
It took you time to write this all out, to think of the perfect cover, the perfect arraignment and format. You made decisions. Celebrate.
Writing is harder than most people know until they sit and do it themselves. It can be years and of procrastination, writer’s block and changing your mind. It can be rejections and doubt. But here you are IN PRINT taking a chance on your work.
This is no longer a world where women have to play and be small. So BRAG.
YOU DID WHAT...?
I leave this space and I come back to it. I know that can be annoying, but… I’ve accepted that I’m not always in the mood to type out ten pages whether it be positive or negative. And that’s okay. I do it when I can benefit from it internally, like, halting overthinking or processing.
Today we process.
Spiritual journeys are a trip. Just when you think you know something, you realize you still know nothing at all. Since 2019 I’ve been on this road of gentleness and grace. These were two things I lacked in my life because they were not within me to give or receive. I’m not the gentlest person, especially not when it comes to communication. This Aries (mercury) will give you a run for your money in an argument or even not. I’m still working on my mouth, but my insides are different.
I have found that in being gentle with yourself, you expect others to be the same way. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen, but… it’s okay to desire it. To crave it. I thought I liked aggression, but now I’m learning that was due to me being unhealed and toxic. I approach everything different inside of grace from conversations about politics to arguments about race. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been in school to become a therapist for the last two and a half years. Almost there y’all.
This evaluation has me thinking about what gentleness looks like from others, so here with are with a few of my quick thoughts.
What do gentle lovers look like?
What do gentle friends look like?
While this list could probably be longer, these are things that came to me as I sat here writing. I will amend it if anything more comes to me. Until then, this is what I’m seeking now and in the future. Just like healing, this too is an every day practice. Loving is an ever day practice. I've been been both proud and not so proud of myself in this area, but nonetheless I call myself on it when I'm the opposite.
As a Taurus I feel 100% qualified to write this blog. I mean it is all opinion-based anyway so… yeah. My fellow bulls understand. People like to say that we are the Kings and Queens of holding a grudge. I wouldn’t exactly argue, because I have been that bull that claims to NEVER forgive. Why? Because I didn’t have to. It wasn’t until I was much older and more mature that I realized that grudges only hurt me. And when I say much older, I mean like a year or so ago. Up until last year, I carried the mentality that forgiveness was super fucking human. It seemed almost insane to offer anyone my forgiveness, because again, why? That Rick Ross album or song—I don’t know because I don’t support him anymore—God forgives, I don’t? Yeah, that was my slogan in life. I walked around like keeping my forgiveness to myself was a badge of honor.
It wasn’t until I took a deep dive into my spirit that I learned grudges were seeds of anger, regret, and bitterness. It was the very thing stopping me from growing and progressing on every level in my life. I was mad at my Dad, mad at my family, mad at majority of my exes… and for what?
I have had several people tell me that I needed to learn how to forgive. What I was hearing from them that I needed to give people a pass for the fucked up shit they had done to me. I’m here to tell you that nobody, absolutely no one gets away with bad behavior. They will pay, whether you get to see it or not. I have touched on forgiveness before and I’ll reiterate here. You can forgive, but you do not have to forget. You also do not have to allow people that you have forgiven to be a part of your life.
Are y’all tired of hearing about my ex-wife yet?
I hated her the most and held the biggest and longest grudge. I somehow believed that my anger was how to make her pay for all that she had done. I never stopped to realize that she paid heavily for her deeds when I walked away. Being mad at her only kept toxic behavior alive and well inside of me. My anger toward her was a scapegoat for me and my own healing. If I had a dollar for everytime I said I wasn’t going to engage in something because of something my ex-wife had done to me, I’d be rich. My grudge literally stopped me from living, from trusting, from loving, and moving forward as the woman I knew I could be without her.
I’m still shaking of some debris of that statement “My ex used to…” Let’s just say that it’s nice to have someone in my life that doesn’t mind when I need to talk some shit out.
I can remember her always contacting me randomly after I left her. I always took the bait and was pulled into toxic banter. She’d beg, plead, and apologize. I’d list everything she’d done to ruin our marriage. It became a song on repeat in my mind. Because in constantly engaging with her and reminding her of how trifling she was, I was reminding myself. The reminders would reignite and restart my grudge after I’d found stillness and calm.
I have always loved the quote “He who angers you controls you.” She was a puppet master. How do I cut the strings?
I had to realize the pattern in her obviously abusive and manipulative behavior. I also had to remember when my therapist said that as long as you are arguing, you still care. It was true, especially if you know me as a person. I carry a silence that cuts deep. I got stern with myself and I stopped responding anytime that she would say anything to me that had nothing to do with the legal dissolution of our marriage. Even when obligated to respond, she never got more than five-word responses out of me. I had created a boundary, which is much different than a grudge. There is no emotion attached to boundaries. She was going to respect my space and need for peace. Period.
Once I created a boundary, I gave myself room to purge. I had to sit with all that I’d felt during the time I spent with her. It was a huge wave and crash, but I made it to shore. Forgiving her made it easy to stand firm in my boundary and to not be provoked to anger. There was no anger. I had released it. You can’t fan a fire that isn’t there and blazing. I was free from whatever emotional control she had over me. She was only step one. Forgiving her was realizing that all she done had nothing to do with me. Were my feelings valid? Absolutely, but I didn’t have to carry that hurt forever. Forgiving her helped me to forgive everyone that came before her, because they too had their demons. It was just unfortunate that I got hit in the midst of their personal fights with themselves.
You have to decide that you are not the victim. They are victims to their own insecurities. There are a list of things that make people behave badly in relationships: childhood trauma, secret addictions, shame, self-hatred, etc. None of it has anything to do with you.
Set boundaries. Tell people what you will not put up and wait to see If they will respect you. If they do, cool, they survive another day in your life. If they don’t, wait to see if they correct themselves. If there is no correction, remove yourself and don’t be upset about it. Don’t be upset with them. Wish them well and go on living.
See the difference?
Boundaries good. Grudges bad.
It’s okay to build walls and forts around yourself, but always ask yourself what foundation it is built on. What is the root? You can do it. If I can, you can. There is nobody on this planet more stubborn than me or at least I haven’t met them yet. I dare you to challenge yourself and your growth.
My love is conditional like a motherfucker. Read that again. I say that to say that unconditional love is toxic as fuck. I want people to erase the idea that they have to put up with people’s shit, no matter what. YOU DO NOT! This message is especially for black women, because we have been conditioned more than most to break ourselves for the world. Think about where that “ride or die” mentality comes from. It is the very reason many women are sitting in prison for something their partner did. Black men that we March for when they are murdered by police are our number one killers. See where I’m going with this? One of my favorite jokes on the interest net is: I am not a ride or die. I have questions. Where are we riding to and why we gotta die?
Will I go on adventures with you that fulfill us both? Yes. Where and where, but will I do things that make me uncomfortable? Trigger me? Send me spinning into a never ending spiral of depression, insecurity, and doubt? Hell no.
Believe in your worth
Own your agency
Understand your core values
Name your non-negotiables
Deal breakers. Know them.
Asset without apology
Reinforce and repeat if challenged
Implement practically and safely
Exit when not respected
Save yourself and prioritize your self-care
Unconditional means not limited. I have limits and you should too. Have limits with your family, with your friends, with you co-workers, and with your lovers. I’ll give you examples. With family, people will use the term “blood is thicker than water” to cross lines they know damn well they have no reason crossing. My own father was this person trying to pit me against my sister and her boyfriend. He is no longer a part of my life because he is a grown ass man. I am a grown ass woman, and I will not be manipulated with delusions for the sake of “family.” Chosen family is a real thing. Get you one.
With friends, I don’t engage in gossip. Do not call me with what someone has said about me. Do not call me with other people’s business. It’s some miserable shit to do. I also don’t want that fed into my spirit. It’s some low vibrational shit and I have better things to talk about. I don’t even follow The Shaderoom anymore, because honestly, that shit is depressing. The way they drag celebrities and their personal lives through the mud is tragic. They continuously feed into negative narratives about black women, colorism, politics, and abuse and they are NEVER on the right side of it. Pass. There are better platforms. I have actually shifted my entire timeline so that my scrolling is intentional. It’s filled with black women that are therapists, fitness instructors, brujas, travelers, couples in love, foodies, and artist.
With co-workers, I do not let them change who I am. I Do. Not. Code. Switch. Can I? Yes, but then I would not be my authentic self. When I look for jobs, I purposely look for places that will allow me to flourish as myself. I stopped feeding into corporate bullshit a long time ago, because either way, what’s for me will be for me. Companies will feed on your fear if you allow them to. I’m the asset and that’s what needs to be understood. My boss loves reminding me that I’m smarter than her and I eat it up everytime.
With lovers, I have learned to stand my ground. I say what I will not tolerate and if that is violated, I’m out, because staying silent communicates that what they did is okay. It’s not. Your bad behavior will not be rewarded with my presence and/or dopeness. Sit down with the person that you choose for yourself and make your deal breakers clear. Say to them, “That if you do this thing,” this relationship is over. Don’t be the submissive. Don’t be passive. Don’t be the “go with the flow” type. Know yourself and what you want. I’m here to tell you that there are people out there that care about what it is that you want, need, and desire, and they will give it to you, without question.
The ONLY person that absolutely needs your unconditional love is yourself. Give yourself unconditional love, unconditional gratitude, unconditional criticism, and unconditional grace. You require it for the amount of energy people want to steal from you. You can’t rely on others to give it back to you. I have both loved and been loved unconditionally. I’d actually be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that there are a few people in this world that can do no wrong in my eyes and I will love them no matter what, but even that has fine print. Even though I love them, it’s from a far distance, because I’ve had to learn to put myself first. Wounds are easily inflicted, but they take a long time to heal. Stop bleeding out for people that won’t offer you so much as a band-aid.
Being on the receiving end of unconditional love kept me stagnant. I was toxic and standing in ego. I could do this because I knew that no matter what, I’d never be left. By being loved unconditionally, I was being enabled to walk in my shadow-self with all the darkest parts of me as my face: jealousy, selfishness, venomous language, detached feelings, the works. The sad thing is that people liked this side of me. They believed that I cared and because of this I formed a lot of trauma bonds. Blog for another day.
So what’s my beef with the word unconditional? I just told you. Let’s talk about love, because I’m good at that. Think about what it means to say to someone that you love them unconditionally; you love them without limits. You’re giving them permission to do whatever and you will accept it. That means, they can cheat, they can lie, they can hit you, they can use you… and you will still love them.
I went into marriage with the “unconditional love” mentality. I left that marriage in pieces. The unfortunate thing is that I would have stayed had someone not come along and showed me that I could have what I was asking for, what I desired. By giving and receiving unconditional love, we tend to settle for things that can trigger and traumatize us. And don’t take this as a reason to be intolerant finding any little reason to cut people out of your life. Your spouse not squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube is inconsideration, not abuse or an attack. We are all flawed and that’s okay. There is just a fine line between flawed and toxic. Your discernment can tell you the difference. You will know what needs to be nurtured and what should be nuked.
There are people that are redeemable, but understand that it’s up to them to do the work for themselves. They have to hold themselves accountable and own their shit. You do not, do not have to unpack their shit. Boundaries protect your spirit, your mental health, your heart, and your physical being.
I didn’t always have limits. I accepted unconditional love as this whimsical, romantic thing that had to be done in life in order to have long-lasting connections. I understand now through spirituality and maturity that people who truly love you will not push you that far. They will not test your will or your levels of pain by how much you can endure. What they will do is want what’s best for you and challenge you to go after it. True love is healing, growth, and unapologetic boundaries. Anyone that expects you to bend yourself outside of what you have to give is selfish and hella egotistical. You don’t need it in your life.
Learn who and when to hold space for others, yourself, and the waves of emotions that we all face each day.