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.

 

 

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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!)

Let It Go

Ever overhear someone talking bad about another person and just know they were talking about you?

Yeah, me too. It happened Saturday night, in fact. I’m sure the ladies didn’t expect me to hear the conversation, but I heard it nonetheless. I won’t tell you exactly what was said, but I can tell you that most people would probably let it go.

But I can’t.

That’s the problem with me and my anxiety. I can’t just let shit go. And I can’t articulate what’s happening in my mind to anyone else–my words never feel strong enough to make someone else feel what I’m going through.

So I pretend. I act like nothing is bothering me. Even when anxiety is constantly looping in my brain, threatening to push me into panic mode, I smile and pretend like everything is fine. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Saturday night I pretended to be looking up something on my phone to make the ladies think I hadn’t heard them, or didn’t care enough to acknowledge that I did.

I haven’t mentioned what happened on Saturday to anyone until now, but trust I’ve been thinking about it nonstop since it happened. It happened after an event I’d helped plan, one that I thought was pretty successful. But apparently someone had issues with me and my departure from the event, which was the conversation I overheard.

I wish I could just not care.

I wish I could remember that the event was successful and someone’s small comment doesn’t overshadow that.

I wish I could remember that what other people think about me doesn’t matter.

But too many times, I can’t let it go.

So I’m setting a new intention for 2018: let it go!

  • Let negativity go.
  • Let stress go.
  • Let other people’s opinions of me go.
  • Let drama go.
  • Let my unrealistically high expectations for myself go.
  • Let doubt go.

Not saying I’ll have it mastered by the end of the year, but I’m damn sure gonna try.

What are your methods for overcoming anxiety?