So Amazing

So, I just listened to the first episode of the podcast I narrated Who Killed Julie? and it was so amazing!  (And no, I’m not just saying that because I narrated it.)

This podcast is different because it’s fiction that tackles a very real subject–domestic abuse.  As a domestic abuse survivor, I know firsthand how hard it can be to recover from such a terrible experience.  The podcast creator, Paul Sating, is using this series to bring light to the issue and support survivors.  How awesome is that?!?  It’s one thing to use the topic to get listens, but to actually use this platform to help people who’ve gone through this ordeal is honorable and so needed in today’s times.

With all that’s going on in regards to women and sexual assault in America today, Who Killed Julie? is a necessary listen.  For those who ask why she didn’t fight back, why she didn’t report it back then, if she was drinking, what she was wearing, and all the other bullshit excuses for terrible behaviors on the part of men, you should listen to this.  This is a story of a woman who experienced something truly terrible–lost her life even–and the reason why will chill you to the bone.

Check out Who Killed Julie? on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher!

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The Beginning

When I first started this blog, I’d just celebrated my 26th birthday.

Yesterday, I turned 31.  #OldLadyClub

What would I tell myself, at the beginning?

  1. Control is not love.  You deserve better than him, even if you don’t think you do.
  2. Yes, you do love your new job.  Money isn’t everything–you’ll get by, I promise–and you’ll be soooooo much happier.
  3. DO NOT COSIGN ON THAT CAR.  Trust me.
  4. DO NOT PAY FOR THAT WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD.  Again, trust me.
  5. Old friends will leave your life–let them go, girl!  The ones that stay are the ones that belong.
  6. You are beautiful at any weight.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There are so many people who love you.
  8. You’re going to travel the world.  Take lots of pictures!
  9. Love–real love–will find you.  But you have to love yourself first.
  10. You are so much stronger than you know.  Physically and emotionally–you can handle anything that comes your way.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve been part of my life’s journey.  Here’s to 31–I’ve only just begun!

31me

A ‘froed out, thick hipped, incredibly happy Kentucky girl living in a Wisconsin world.

 

The Weight

I pulled in to Nazareth, I was feelin’ ’bout a half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
Hey mister, can you tell me where a girl might find a bed (can you tell me)
He just grinned and shook my hand, no was all he said

-Aretha Franklin, ‘The Weight’

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted lately, it’s because I’ve been feeling the weight.

An unarmed Black man was murdered by a police officer in his own apartment.

Brett Kavanaugh will likely become part of the Supreme Court.

Wisconsin, where I live, is slowly recovering from historic flooding that destroyed many structures and even killed someone.

The White House is in chaos.

As a Black woman in America, getting through each day lately has been utterly exhausting.  Watching the news makes me so anxious, but I can’t not watch–I need to know how close to oblivion we are getting.  Unfortunately, we are inching closer and closer every day.

The weight is bearing down on me.  It’s bearing down on a lot of us.

But I can’t let it take me out.  We can’t let it bring us down.

We have to continue to help and love each other, regardless of what we look like or how much money we have or where we’re from.

We have to fight back against those trying to tear apart our country with racism and discrimination.

We have to keep moving forward.

Yes, I’m still feeling the weight.  The struggle to make it through each day is still very real.  But I like to think that my muscles are getting stronger.  I’m trying to find something positive in each day to keep me moving forward.

I hope you are too.

 

 

Music of My Heart: Pt. 2

Another day, another influential album.  🙂

Second on the list is…

breakaway

Album:  Breakaway
Artist:  Kelly Clarkson
Released:  2004

Anybody else reallyyyyyyyy into American Idol back in the day?  I know I was a huge fan of the ORIGINAL series (I’ve got opinions on the recent revival of the show–that’s for another post) that brought us the legend known as Kelly Clarkson.

I must admit, I wasn’t even rooting for Kelly to win the inaugural season of AI.  I was a teenage girl back then, which meant I was squarely on #TeamJustinGuarini.  (What can I say?  He was cute, and I had raging teen girl hormones controlling my thoughts.)  But Kelly definitely deserved to win.  Homegurl can SANG.  I enjoyed her debut album (Thankful) that came out as a result of her winning the show.

But her sophomore album Breakaway…that album was special.  It was the soundtrack for my high school years, even though it didn’t come out until I was a senior.

For a long time, I didn’t know that the feelings of desolation I had were actually signs of depression.  Breakaway helped me get through the pain I experienced (especially breaking up with my first boyfriend).  One song in particular called “Hear Me” was my heartsong.  I felt like I was in a crowd, screaming for help, and no one noticed.

Hear me
I’m cryin’ out
I’m ready now
Turn my world upside down
Find me
I’m lost inside the crowd
It’s getting loud
I need you to see
I’m screaming for you to please
Hear me

(If you haven’t checked our Part 1 of this series, please do!)

Music of My Heart: Pt. 1

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories.

And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. 

-Stevie Wonder

Mr. Stevie had it right, y’all.  So much music colors my life.  A song comes on and within the first few notes, I’m transported.  Memories, bright and sharply focused, take me back in time.  Depending on the song, I could laugh out loud or burst into tears.  I welcome all the memories–happy and sad–that the music brings to me.

Starting today, I’ll post the artwork for an album.  Some are old; others are more recent.  Some brought me joy; others got me through the toughest times in my life.  All make up the soundtrack of my life, the music of my heart.

First up…

lemonade.jpg

Album:  Lemonade
Artist:  Beyoncé
Released:  2016

 

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Lemonade.  After a cruise celebrating my mother’s birthday I sat in the Detroit Metro airport, waiting for the flight to take me home.  I’d heard the buzz about the album–the controversy over “Formation” at the Super Bowl halftime show, the shock that she made a whole entire film to go with it (#whodoesthat #yourfavecouldnever #shesthegreatest)–so I had to hear what the Queen was talkin’ ’bout. I purchased the album on iTunes and listened to it over…

…and over…

…and over.

At some points, I openly wept.  In the terminal, on the plane–I couldn’t hold back the tears.  You see, I had a tough time recovering from abuse from my ex-fiance.  I felt betrayed.  I felt angry.  I felt afraid.  I was just coming to the realization that, even though I felt powerless, I was the one who controlled my life.  Lemonade spoke to all that betrayal, anger, and fear.  It let me know I would make it through and be a stronger woman in the end.

In “Sandcastles”, Beyoncé sings:

Dishes smashed on my counter

From our last encounter

Pictures snatched out the frame

Bitch I scratched out your name

And your face

What is it about you

That I can’t erase

When every promise don’t work out that way

Her voice breaks at, “What is it about you that I can’t erase?” and it was like she read my heart and turned my deepest feelings into song.  I wanted to forget my ex so bad–because he hurt me so bad–but he still haunted me.

Lemonade was my strength.  Even today, every time a song from the album comes on, I stop and listen.

 

(Special thanks to Eli W. for inspiring this series!)

Me. Mine.

It was during high school, one afternoon, in an upstairs hallway.

I’d come to the conclusion I wanted to end the relationship.  We’d been together awhile (probably around a year) and while things were good at times, overall things were bad.  My boyfriend–my first real boyfriend–was clingy, demanding and manipulative.  He wanted to plan matching outfits every day.  He constantly compared our relationship, especially the physical aspect (really, the lack thereof), to his best friend.  If I was having a good day and he wasn’t, he went out of his way to ignore me until my day was shitty too.

So, I told him it was over.  He rested his head against the wall, silent.  I though the conversation went as well as it possibly could have…until he reared back and slammed his forehead into the glass of a picture frame hanging on the wall.  In disbelief, I backed toward a classroom door, hoping to escape quickly.

Locked.

Shock quickly turned to fear.

Luckily, other students were farther down the hallway and heard the commotion.  I hurried back to class and frantically told my teacher what happened; she rushed out to assist him.  My cousin came to check on me and I told him I was fine, he hadn’t hurt me.

The painful part came afterward, when I was asked to keep quiet about what happened.

My ex begged me not to tell anyone what happened.  He hoped to join the military and worried this would negatively impact his chances.  His mom and sister came to me with the same request.  I was horrified.  was supposed to protect him? He was upset, they said.  That behavior wasn’t like him; his future was at stake.

He.  Him.

My college boyfriend–my first real love–went home for the summer while I stayed in town and worked.  Toward the end of the summer, he told me he wanted to take me out to dinner–to talk to me about something–when he got back.  He was very mysterious, refusing to tell me what he wanted to talk about, and I thought for sure he was going to propose.  Turns out, he wanted to break up.  (Thank God I got him to tell me over the phone instead of in a restaurant.)

But after that, we were still cordial…until he got upset with me for not buying a computer from him.  See, he worked at a computer store and I came in one day and bought a brand new laptop–but not while he was on shift.  He could have used that commission, he said.  He thought I would have wanted to help him out.

He.  Him.

Too often, women are expected to take ownership for what men do.  Recently, the trial and conviction of Bill Cosby illuminates this disgusting facet of our society.  Why did she go to his hotel room?  What did she expect would happen?  Why is she coming forward now?  He’s an old man; he’ll die in prison because of this.  What about him, his legacy as a Black actor?

He.  Him.

It sickens me for a number of reasons, but mostly because it happened to me.  I completely understand the anger, the sadness, the frustration, and the guilt that comes with being made to feel like you have to take care of someone totally able to care for himself.

Women are socialized to care, to nurture, to feel.  We are expected to be firm, but kind.  We are taught to be nice. Even at our own expense.

This goes for everyone, but especially for women–we need to start taking care of ourselves.  It isn’t selfish to protect yourself from harm.  It isn’t mean to tell the truth.

Honestly, I hesitated to even write this post. What if my two exes, their friends and families, got upset with me? What if I hurt their feelings? What if I made them mad?

Then I realized–I can’t worry about them. I have to worry about me. One of my intentions this year is to speak my truth. I’m finally telling the truth I’ve felt obligated to keep quiet for so long.

Me. Mine.

You don’t owe anyone your self-esteem, your time, your money, or your silence–especially if they aren’t willing to positively invest in you.

What if…

Trying to stay unfrozen has been a feat until this week.  Seriously, it literally snowed 3-4″ last week!  #notcool But now spring has finally come to Wisconsin…and I’ve finally come back to blogging!

Not gonna lie to y’all–my life is pretty boring so I feel like I don’t have anything to post about regularly lol.  Like, do people really care that I started buying groceries at the local Aldi?  Are folks really trying to read about the new bike I bought?  Answer:  probably not (at least that’s what I assume).  So my posts have been infrequent.

Butttttt I’d like to change that!  Maybe y’all aren’t interested in what I’m doing (which is honestly not a lot) but what I’m thinking (which is all sorts of things).  Honestly, y’all might not be interested in what I’m doing OR thinking lol.  But today I’m gonna share a bit of what’s been going on in my brain.

Lately, I’ve been playing this mental game called “What if…”  Basically, I’ve been thinking about all the ways my life could have gone wrong.  Not in a morbid, “woe is me” sort of way, but just considering all the events and circumstances (great and small) that led me to this awesome life I have today.

My mom is the most wonderful person on the planet.  If she hadn’t raised me, I’m almost certain my life would have gone poorly.  Like, I hope I’d be a good contributing member of society if I didn’t have her as a mom, buttttttt I’m skeptical.  That lady raised me RIGHT.  She taught me to be caring and diligent and showed me how to work hard even when it feels like everything and everyone is against you.  She encouraged me and motivated me and, most importantly, disciplined me when I needed it and called me on my bullshit.  Without her, who knows who I would be?

My daddy died when I was only 13.  His death could have been a trigger for my life to take a bad direction.  In ways, it did create issues–I didn’t have a role model for how a man should treat me and ended up in some terrible relationships as a result–but it could have been much worse.  On occasion I’ll watch the show Intervention and the stories that touch my heart the most are of women who lost their fathers or whose fathers were emotionally distant.  Women who, quite possibly, could have been me.

On the flip side, what if he hadn’t passed?  Would he have gotten better, fought his addiction, and been the father I needed?  Or would he have continued to drink?  Would I have ended up estranged from him?  Would I have drunk right along with him (alcoholism does run in families, after all)?  There’s no way to know.  And honestly, this version of the “What if…” game hurts the most.

My best friend in the world moved to our town when we were in the fourth grade.  She was a bookish Black girl just like me, and I needed her at nine years old in a predominately white school in a predominately white (and very southern) town.  If she hadn’t come, I don’t know who I would have relied on to support me when my daddy died.  I don’t know who I would have called when my ex-fiance was abusing me.  Who knows what friends I would have made and what paths they would have taken me down?  (One of my childhood friends ended up with a drug problem.  I could have been right there with her.)

Even outside of the key players in my life, all the small events and decisions and interactions in my life add up too.  I dated someone in college who I though was going to marry me, but ended up breaking my heart instead.  If we had married, I wouldn’t have met the man I truly love and who lets me be myself.  After college, I applied for a job at the Social Security Administration and was devastated when they didn’t hire me.  But if I had taken that job, I might never have gotten the opportunity to do something I truly love.

Just to be clear, I don’t play “What if…” to throw myself a pity party.  Playing this game makes me sad sometimes, but ultimately I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I’ve been through stuff that could have broken me, but I survived.  I’ve learned to appreciate the things and people who make my life special.

I urge you to consider the circumstances of your life and how you are a stronger person because of (or in spite of) them.  If you’ve got a story of triumph you’d like to share, leave it in the comments!

What_if_I_ask_for_help

Image courtesy of Maryeoriginals