Poetry Girl

Today I was doing my normal COVID pre-work routine (coffee, stretch, cardio) and this random rhyme popped into my head. Not all at once though; it came in a few words at a time until I ended up with a little poem.

I kept saying this poem in my head, over and over—it wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so persistent I had to stop and write it down! The only thing I could find in the moment was my planner, so now there are a few lines of a poem randomly next to my to-do list for today. 🙂

Never in my life have I considered myself a poet, but that made me wonder: Is that what poets do all the time?

Are songwriters consumed by a melody?

Do colors blur the vision of the artist?

Will a dancer’s feet twitch with the steps?

Honestly, ya girl is NOT an innovator. Give me a list of tasks, I’ll do ‘em—well and ahead of schedule too! Ask me to come up with what tasks *should* be done…thanks, but no thanks.

That’s what fascinates me about humans and our brains! We all have different thought processes and desires and talents. I love learning about how people think. So I’ve got a call to action for y’all:

If you’re a creator, I’d love to hear more about your creative process. Please share in the comments!

Disappear

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I made our weekly sojourn to the grocery store. (Even Pre-COVID, we shopped weekly to save time, energy, and money.) We slowly wound our way through the store we simultaneously loved and hated—large selection and great prices, narrow aisles and never enough cashiers.

A woman’s cart stood between us and the almond milk, one of the last items on our list. Eager to get this trip over with, my boyfriend moved her cart a few inches so I could push ours past. The movement must have caught her eye, and she turned to look at me.

“You’re so beautiful!” she exclaimed.

I thanked her, secretly wondering how she could think such a thing given the cloth mask covering half my face. Without missing a beat, she continued.

“Where are you from?”

That was the first of many microaggressions to come.

I quickly replied, “Kentucky,” and pushed my cart closer to the dairy case in an effort to end the conversation. But she inched closer, maskless (!) and babbling.

“Your hair is lovely. What do you do to your hair to get it like that?”

The answer? Literally nothing. (The few sprays of water I applied before the trip didn’t count—I didn’t even put any product in it!) I shrugged and responded, “It just grows this way,” struggling mightily to keep myself from rolling my eyes. I was brought up to respect my elders, and even though the gray-haired woman in front of me was trying my patience, my mama raised me to be polite.

I tried to leave but the woman continued, following one awful comment with a string of several more.

“African women are so elegant, very regal and classy. You know, I could tell you weren’t from around here. You don’t act like the Black people in Wisconsin. I work with them and they have such an attitude. They wear their hair in the braids and it just comes out. I’m from India and I help them, boil the coconut oil and castor oil to make something to help it grow back. Your hair is beautiful and healthy, and you wear it just as it is! They should be more like you.”

Racism, wrapped in compliments. From another woman of color, at that! I wanted to disappear.

As she turned and walked away, she noticed the large ginger root in our cart.

“Healthy too! You are so good. May God bless you.”

My boyfriend, having ventured to get the almond milk himself, returned to find me standing next to our cart. Seething, I recounted the interaction. We headed toward the checkout line, watching carefully to avoid seeing her again.

Usually, I leave that grocery store anxious and frustrated because of the crowded aisles and lengthy checkout lines. Today, anxiety and frustration were replaced with anger and sadness.

You cannot uplift one Black woman and simultaneously put others down.

You cannot talk badly about Black people in Wisconsin while ignoring the fact that it is one of the worst states in America for Black people.

You cannot celebrate Black hair in its natural state while trashing the protective styles many of us (including myself) wear regularly.

You can, though, be racist and a person of color at the same damn time.

Sabotage

Yesterday before work, my inner saboteur paid me a visit.

After my daily cup of coffee and a quick 10 minute yoga video, I journeyed to my “home gym” (a.k.a. a spare bedroom with a smart TV). I turned on a video from one of my favorite fitness YouTubers and got to work.

Or at least I tried to.

About 10 minutes into the workout, I was struggling. My balance was off. My speed was slower than the instructor. My arms and legs were shaking. At one point, we were doing a core exercise on the floor and I just couldn’t get it right—I kept moving my arms and legs at the wrong times, to the wrong spots.

“Wow, you’re really terrible at this.”

“Do you even know your right from your left? How embarassing.”

“Honestly, I don’t even see why you bother with this. You’re never going to look as good as you in college.

“You’re fat. Ugly too. Just give up!”

I didn’t give up…but I did cry in the shower after I finished the video. “Cruel” is an understatement when it comes to my inner saboteur. Clearly, I am my own worst enemy.

As a Black woman in America, I work very hard to prove to myself and everyone else that I am capable—I deserve to be in the room. When I’m anxious, or sad, or overwhelmed, my inner saboteur shows up to make me feel even worse.

Everyone has these voices in their heads. What I’m working on is changing what it says to me. For every negative comment, I need to train my brain to come up with something positive.

So today, I’m heading back to my “home gym” to try again. If my inner saboteur shows up, I’m telling her to kick rocks. Nobody’s gonna stop me from accomplishing what I want in life—not even me!