Memoirs of an Empress has a new home!!!

we-have-moved-thumb-600x644

We’ve moved on up…not quite to the East Side but we do have an official domain name in the sky! Update your subscription and follow us at www.empressmovements.com! Cant wait to see you in the new Palace! We’re having a site warming, don’t be tardy for the party!

Memoirs of an Ego: When Keeping it Real Goes Quiet!

MofE Massive,

On behalf of my ego, I’d like to offer an apology. Well you and me both. This last 3 months has been a worldwind! From the moment I decided to follow my heart, pack up my life and move to Dominica, the Universe has truly conspired for my good and provided me with so many powerful experiences that have strengthened my trust in myself and the power of the Divine to take care of me….Unfortunately, my ego and the part of me that likes to feel like i got everything under control hasn’t been sharing all of those stories with you.

You see, my ego wants me to be a world-famous entrepreneur, with a million dollar practice, a best-selling author and travel writer, tv personality, and a Dominican business mogul (what can I say, I got a big ego!).  My ego has kept me from writing about my regular, every day experiences because it has devalued how important they are since they are not necessarily raking in the dough or building my bank account. I have been doing all kinds of studying about how to build my brand, be a better blogger, how to be a businesswoman, and how to become a millionaire, all the while, missing the point of it all; that I want to spend my life and build my fortune doing what I love. My ego is so compawezon (comp-uh-way-zuh, a Patois word meaning rude and out of order) that is hasn’t even acknowledged that half of my battle is already won! Every day for the last 3 months, I have done exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. Relax. Walk my nephew to school everyday and hangout with my sisters. Sunbathe. I visited St. Lucia (twice!). Martinique (Oui Oui). I spend my days writing (in lemon grasses, balconies overlooking the Caribbean Sea).  I shot a yoga dvd in some of the most beautiful places in Dominica. I’ve sat at the feet of elders, learning about the last 5 generations of my family history (and that’s just one side!)  Everything I said I wanted to do and more, but after all of this my ego is still not satisfied!

Because I haven’t figured out the exact formula to turn my current amazing life into my long-term, financially abundant amazing life, my ego has tried to convince me that I need to make a plan, get serious.  So as the weeks are winding down until my scheduled summer return, I  have been stressing myself out trying to plan for the future and control as many variables I can to create a sense of “normalcy” and appease my ego. I’ve been so busy trying to  prove something to my ego, that I’ve forgotten to tell  the real story, my  story, the very reason I started this blog!

Our egos are designed to make question our inner Goddess. Our ego tells us that we need external things to be happy, that we are not enough, that we have something to prove. Our ego hates when we stray away from the regularly scheduled program and do what we our designed to do…cause every time we follow our hearts, our ego shrinks. The more our ego shrinks, the more our realest selves get to shine, and that Light aint noooo joke! But ego is not the enemy, homegirl needs love to! (I’ll explain more on this in another post), but She she does need to be checked!

So as a memo to my ego(who I’m dubbing Shego) and as a commitment to you my fellow Empresses (and Emporers), I’m going to share the WHOLE story, whatever is on my mind (random as it might be)and trust that being authentic self is enough for you.  My ego is squirming like crazy right now but I am grateful to you all for rocking with me through this journey! Keep watching the throne, I promise, this is gonna get real interesting  :0)

Can’t see them coming down my eyes, so I gotta make my Mat cry…

This morning, Adele’s “Someone Like You” was stuck in my head. This happens to me often, a song will get stuck with me and I wont be able to be at peace until I take a moment to experience the song. As I listened to Adele’s powerful, throaty voice and got lost in the haunting melody of the song, all I felt like doing was crying, but tears would not come. This is the third time in under a week that I was so moved with emotion but couldn’t find the means to express it. The song doesn’t have any particular significance to me, aside from it being a beautiful song, the lyrics don’t necessarily to the circumstances of my current love life (well there is that one dude….lol) but the power of her voice, and understanding how powerful Love is as a tool for growth and self understanding just made me incredibly grateful to all the men I have loved in my life and all of the men who loved me. Even in this short time since I’ve been in Dominica, the choices I have made in partners have been the most powerful mirrors for me in terms of whom and how I choose to love, the parts of me that still need to heal, and the parts of me that Unconditional Love has strengthened. As I continue to practice loving all of me unconditionally, it is a powerful experience to express that unconditional love outward into the world.

So this morning, as I listened to “Someone Like You” on repeat and wondered why I couldn’t find the words or emotions to express the emotions I was feeling, my Spirit told me to grab my yoga mat and my laptop and just flow through some movements while I continued to listen. As I took to my mat, every feeling I could not articulate came pouring out onto the mat. My movements took on a mind of their own, my flow used it self to send love and breath to areas of my body that needed love, my child’ pose became a place for meditation and reflection. Postures that had been a challenge for me, like  head stands  and backbends all of a sudden came easily and naturally. Although I never shed a tear, my whole body released every emotion it needed to and I felt like I shed a layer of skin in preparation to go into the world able to experience every emotion at a deeper, more conscious level. Give thanx. Although I always credit writing as my main source of medicine for healing, the mind-body-spirit connection is so real and if all three are not in alignment, it is that much more difficult for healing to take place. Yoga and movement have been a necessary and powerful part of my healing, especially since my mother passed away. I am truly grateful that I have this practice as an outlet. I’ve always admired the way dancers move as if they are inspired and I think this morning, I finally understood what that must feel like for them. Your practice is not about how athletic you are, or how flexible. It is the constant and consistent practice of connecting breath to emotion to movement to existence. The best part is when you realize you can carry that feeling off of the mat into the world with you.

What is your practice? Yoga? Dance? Capoeira? What do you do to express emotions that wont come out according to regular expression? Please share so for the MoE massive that might need a little inspiration!

Don’t take advice from ANYONE that doesn’t have what you want!

Sometimes the most dangerous thing we can do to our dreams is to listen to the opinions of the people we love. I know it may sound contrary to the advice we usually get, but think about it. The people we love and who love us in return, usually only want “the best” for us. Often times, the best = safe. The best= familiar. The best= someone else’s definition of success. All of the above are fine, if they fit into your life’s vision but what happens when your chosen trajectory is different from the norm? Over the last few months, some of the people that I love the most have been the source of the worst pressure as I pursue my dream. The constant recommendation to ‘prove myself’, to not embarrass my family by failing to live up to the expectations they have for me (if you know anything about Caribbean families, you know what a big deal shame is). For some members of my family, the temporary tolerance of my choice to move to the Caribbean and start my own business is only present due to my previous track record of being a hardworking, dependable, ambitious woman. The same goes for my intimate relationships. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had two of my ex’s share that they chose not to commit to me because they didn’t think I wanted to be “stable”. Because of my lifestyle choices, they didn’t believe I would be capable of having a traditional relationship and feared I would leave them in order to “chase my dreams”.

Now I understand the older generation of my family being a bit weary of my non-traditional choices, but hearing this from the men in my life was a major shock to me.

This idea that people I love, people who I share some of the deepest parts of my soul with, still don’t understand the choices that I make scared the heck out of me. As a matter of fact, it sent me into full fledge panic mode. One of my greatest aspirations is to be an amazing wife and mother of 7.  The fact that I could be alienating potential life partners with my choices and somehow preventing that aspiration from becoming a reality, made me think that I need to make some different choices. Just like that, I started contemplating what I could do to make my life appear more stable to others. Should I apply for a traditional job? Stop traveling so much? Move back to the U.S? Would the man of my dreams appear if I went to work everyday and looked stable enough for him to show up?

After hours of what I call deep thought torture, i.e. going in circles in your head about a decision and coming to no peaceful conclusion, I paused for a second and stopped allowing my thoughts to control me. I reviewed my choices and what I know to be true about them.  In the past year, I have successfully achieved almost every goal I have set for myself. I have had amazing relationships, from which I have learned indelible life lessons that are preparing me to be an extraordinary partner. I have made a commitment to follow my purpose and every choice I make is a direct result of that commitment. If that ain’t the definition of stability, I don’t know what is! I know exactly what I want to do (sometimes lol). God have given me vision, some very useful gifts, a heightened (sometimes too much so) sense of logic and an amazing connection to the Universe that allows me to create my reality. I’m good, I’m happy and God has consistently supported that by allowing the choices I make to work out incredibly in my favor.

I understand that the path I have chosen for myself is not necessarily one that makes sense to people who are not living my experience. It is natural for us to stick to what we know and associate only with we can understand or categorize. Most people have an extremely heightened fear of the unknown and spend their lives doing the obvious and predictable, in order to protect themselves. However, the one truth that sustains me is this; everything is unknown and the only certainty in life is change.  I am confident that I for the most part am living a life that is true to my mission, my purpose, and my values and that is the only constant I value.

It is easy to get distracted from our dreams. It is easy to forget your personal truths, especially when you get lost in someone else’s version of who you are and who you should be. For those moments, I share with you one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Don’t take advice from anyone who doesn’t have what you want. Simple and plain. You can respect the opinions of those you love; you can consider their advice, but never make the mistake of relinquishing your dreams so that other people can be comfortable with your life.

And for those of you wondering about me finding the man of my dreams, given the fact that men in my past have been scared of my choices. I am clear that the man of my dreams is exactly that, the man of MY dreams. My life partner will have to be big enough to handle my mission and me. A man who will be inspired by my vision, support my mission and allow me to use my gifts to create a huge life for us. There is a reason why exes are exes. Some things remain in the past because they weren’t designed to fit your future. I’ll keep reminding myself of that as I clear out the closet to m make space for my man. Like the rest of my dreams, I know he too will become a reality.

Who or what is stopping you from living a big life? How do you stayed on your goals when naysayers try to steer you in a different direction? Please share in the comments below!

The Audacity of Black Wealth

One of the core elements of our legacy as Black women is making something out of nothing. Due to circumstance and historical injustice, particularly slavery, we have become famous for our ability to take leftover scraps and turn it into delicacies (just ask about the history chit’lins!). With an impressive level of resilience, we have developed a beautiful cultural legacy that we are known for around the world, but there is a tragic downside that has been overlooked. We have developed a tolerance for having just enough, for being ok with “making ends meet” and “making do” with whatever we are given. Our ability to adapt and make a “dolla out of fit’teen cent” is a beautiful legacy but one born out of necessity, not choice. It is time we have the audacity to choose a new legacy, based on what we need and what we desire for our future generations. This new legacy says we are no longer satisfied with making do with the remains, or taking a job just to pay the bills, or living in places where we do not feel safe or protected. It is time for us to build a financial legacy that gives us the power of choice and the ability to finance our dreams!
As young women, we often think it’s too early to start thinking about saving money, or put off saving until we have children, finish college, or find a “better job”. The illusion of time is what keeps many of our mothers and grandmothers still living paycheck to paycheck, wondering why they didn’t start saving before they had us and other responsibilities. Many of us come from homes where saving doesn’t seem like a real possibility, where money is tight and paying the bills is priority before saving for “the future”. If we are taught to save, we are told to do so “for a rainy day” : some imagined emergency that never seems to happen, making it even more difficult to have money sitting in savings when there are so many things we can think of spending it on right now! Many of us get our first jobs and use our whole paychecks to buy whatever the latest celebs are wearing, keep our hair and nails fresh, or just to eat out everyday: all habits that we often carry over into our adult lives. We can argue that slavery is over, but because of these short-sighted decisions about money, we enter into another kind of slavery, one that keeps us working just to fund our habits. While there is a certain immediate satisfaction that comes from looking good and enjoying the finer things in life, those choices take money out of our pocket, and do nothing to increase our cashflow in the long run.
If we continue to only think of our money in the moment, we miss out on the great opportunity to build a bigger dream for ourselves and the people we love. As women, we are the keepers of the legacy and the creators of the future. If we continue on as we have been, we will have nothing to leave for our children or communities except the pictures of how fabulous we used to be before we went broke!
According to a 2010 report entitled “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America’s Future,” black women in prime working age between 36 – 49yrs held an average net worth of $5. To compare, white women of the same age held a net worth of $42,000. To put this in simple terms, that means if the average black working woman was to lose her job, she would only have $5 to her name after she paid off all of her bills. How do we expect to build a legacy living above our means like this? Because of our lifestyle built on credit cards and expensive taste, we are projected to be the first generation in history that is financially worse off than our parents: living paycheck to paycheck and under-prepared for any financial challenges life throws at us.
But this does not have to be the case. For us to redefine our legacy, to turn a page, it really takes as little as $20. If you saved $20 every week, starting at 18, you could have more than $10,000 saved. What could you do with $10,000 in the bank? What decisions could you make differently regarding where you went to school, where you worked, and where you lived, if you had a financial cushion of $10,000? Now imagine if on top of that $10,000, you included birthday money, graduation gifts, and increased that $20 to $30 when you start working. That $10,000 can very quickly become $50,000 or more, depending on how committed you are to building your financial legacy.
We must never think that we are too young, broke or comfortable to start thinking about building wealth or think that because our parents didn’t have it, we do not deserve to change our own circumstance. In fact, we owe it to the legacy of our mothers and grandmothers to do more with the little we have. The sooner we recognize the importance of building wealth for our families and the freedom that real wealth allows, the closer we will be to continuing the legacy our ancestors built for us. The earlier we start making smarter decisions about how we handle money, the sooner we change the decisions we can make about all of the other things that money controls.
So now that you know better, you must do better! Start by saving %10 of every dollar you get, whether it’s from a paycheck or a child support check. Open a savings account or a mutual fund that you don’t touch, no matter what. Spend 5 minutes less on Facebook and search the web for websites about investments and wealth building strategies. Most of all, have the audacity to believe that you control your financial freedom. The decisions you make now will determine whether you will make your own rules and pay your own way, or if you will spend your days miserable, working according to someone else’s rules and pay schedule. The choice is yours. I pray you have the audacity to choose freedom.

MoE Massive, whats your take? Why do you think as black woman, we struggle so much with the idea of being rich or wealthy? As a collective, why are we so sastisfied with looking like we have the finer things in lifeifebut not willing to do the work so that we can build the bank account to afford the finer things?  Talk to me!

The  article is an excerpt from a piece I wrote, published in Legends magazine ,a publication of the LadyDiva Corporation. The magazine will be available at the “Having the Audacity to Dream Young Ladies Conference” taking place this weekend in Philadelphia. For more information, please visit http://www.ladydiva.org

Love Lessons from The Empress: The Importance of Investment

For the past 2 years of my life, my love life has featured prominently 2 men, who although on the surface vastly different, have confirmed the same ideal for me.  I think I am afraid of the reality of a man committing to me indefinitely. I can take it back to my first love, my high school sweetheart, cheating on me with a crazy girl whom he ended up impregnating and later marrying. Or maybe it was a result of my 2nd love, the short Haitian who brought about the demise of our relationship after his refusal to choose me when given the ultimatum option, between me and his stripper roommate, whom he felt some weird Supermanish desire to save. Or perhaps it was my 3rd boo, whom not too long after telling close family and friends that we were engaged, was caught red-handed using Facebook to set up sordid affairs. I guess by now, you’ve noticed a trend. However, I would probably be lying to say that it began with me or any of those relationships. The fact of the matter is, coming from my family, with its history of infidelity, “outside” children, and asshole husbands (still got mad love for my male kinfolk), I think I’ve always wondered about the sanctity (or more like sanity) of marriage or at the very least, questioned the probability of a man settling down and being satisfied with spending the rest of his life with me and only me.

So like a self-fulfilling prophecy or perhaps some weird subconscious reverse psychology, I have these amazing, non-committal relationships with men who are very clear about not wanting to be in a committed relationship. Case in point, the 2 men that have taken up residence in my heart for the last 3 years. Wonderful men, whom I’ve learned so much about myself and relationships from,  both willing to give me just about everything, except the title of girlfriend.

Interestingly enough, for a very long time, I convinced myself that I didn’t want it. I guess I figured; no commitment, no drama, no drama, no pain. But as in money, so in love, there is no investment without risk and usually the smaller the investment, the smaller the reward.

But I think I finally got it. It took me entertaining the idea of dating a man  engaged to be married (please don’t judge, I only entertained it) for me to realize that I want the investment , and the potential for risk and reward that comes with it. After one conversation with the man, I realized how much he did love his fiancé and dealing with me was more a combination of his raging hormones and sadness that he couldn’t physically be with her. Now don’t get me wrong, I realize dude is not a martyr or someone that I should feel sorry for, because he was definitely a little too ready to betray his commitment to the alleged love of his life, but the experience did make me realize something about myself. I am way too sympathetic to the plight of the Black man. I spend way too much time trying to be understanding and empathize with their fears of being committed  and trying to historically rationalize why monogamy is so hard (we all know how slavery f’ed up the Black family), and really just making excuses for what boils down to selfish, irresponsible behavior in most cases.

I am learning now that I need to be unabashedly firm in knowing what I want and what I am willing to accept. People can only feed you bullshit as long as you are hungry enough and/or willing to eat it. I want a man who is committed and certain without a (significant) doubt that he wants me to be his partner. With no ridiculous amount of dating required either. A man knows, just as we know and that confidence in knowing is the real glue that holds the relationship together. The verbal  agreement between the two parties that says I want to be with you only and I with you is the foundation of being able to build a relationship and move beyond just playing at love. I’m no longer interested in building relationships on “we’ll see what happens” My love is not a crap shoot! Lol. Some might think thats a little too harsh, but like me and Oprah always say, doubt means don’t, so if you aint sure, get away from my door! If that’s what it takes to keep away the riff raff that aren’t willing to invest, then so be it. High stakes, aggressive investors only. Penny henny negroes need not apply.

So what about you, Massive? Whats your take monogamy? Is it realistic to think one woman, one man or one person to one person to keep it all inclusive. What are your rules surrounding commitment? Let me know!

2012: New Year, No Resolutions!

Happy New Year MoE massive,

Greetings from the gorgeous island of St. Lucia! I know you’re probably confused, don’t worry I did relocate to Dominica in December but who said anything about staying in one place? lol I decided to take a vacation from my vacation and visit one of my other favorite places in the world, so I thought it would be fitting to catch you all up during my downtime :0) I apologize for my lack of posting but lets just say, Ive kinda been a lil busy loving life and being grateful for every single moment that I kinda forgot to share all the goodies with you all!

For the first time ever this year, I woke up on New Years day and thought to myself, “F a resolution! This right here is perfection.” I spent New Years Eve with my sisters, in the most beautiful place I have experienced, slightly under the weather from having spent the last day of the year in healing salt water springs, riding through the island on the back of a pickup truck, getting drenched with showers from heaven and then subsequently baked from the amazing rays of the sun. I probably caught a head cold from just having shaved off all my hair the night before ( thats a whole nother post lol). We stayed up an extra hour to watch the ball drop in Times Square (since we’re an hour behind down here), toasted with ginger wine and sang the New Year’s Song and prayed for continued blessings in the upcoming year.

I just remember thinking for the first time ever I felt at perfect peace, like everything I have ever needed or wanted was right with me at that moment. that. There was nothing i need to resolve, nothing I needed to change. At that moment, I decided I was through with resolutions. After packing up my whole life, moving to Dominica, following every prompting I receieve from my Inner G, I realized that resolutions are made minute by minute. There is no need to wait or pray for some dramatic change to the way we live our lives. We are perfect, whole, complete and in every moment, connecting to the greater Whole, can push in the most amazing directions to do those extraordinary things that we often don’t realize we are capable of doing. For me, my only resolve this New Year is to continue to follow that voice without question or doubt, for it has led me so clearly and perfectly to such a beautiful place!

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve spent more concentrated time with my family than I have in the last 10 years. I am certain that my mother’s spirit is working in cahoots with my intuition, cuz it was definitely those to forces that brought us all here together. I am staying in our family house, which is smack between the cemetery where almost all of my ancestors are buried, including my mother and the place where my father is staying as he rebuilds the house my grandfather left for him. My sisters are both here, one permanently, one for an extended vacation, and my nephew, who now has the funniest, most hardcore accent just lights up my life when I see him everyday! My father and I have mad major strides in repairing our relationship after not speaking for almost 6 months, my godfather/ uncle has also decided to start claiming us again after we had the opportunity to heal some old wounds. There is just so much healing going on here. To live each day unencumbered by stupid limitations, to wake up every morning and feel the Sun pouring down on you, never to hot, but just enough to thank your lucky stars that you can walk outside barefoot or shorts and tank top, its really just straight up liberating.I cant remember the last time I felt so alive! And fierce (again, a whoooole nother post! lol)

So for this year, 2012, no resolutions, just continued commitment. I am committed to continue to follow this Spirit guiding me, to waking up each day and listening to what I am directed to do. To trust myself and trust my Inner G to continue to move me in the direction of my path, and finally to know that everyday is a an opportunity to begin again, there is nothing short of death, that we can do that cannot be reversed, cannot be fixed, so we always have the opportunity to begin again.

So far, my Inner G has decided that this year we will write a book (which I have been working on diligently, MoE massive will def get some sneak previews), launch a very successful business venture (or 2), and step (not fall) happily into a beautiful, loving relationship. Sounds good to me, heck who am I to argue with Destiny? lol I’ll keep you all posted as details unfold!

So here’s to you MoE massive, New Year, No Rules! 2012 is going to bigger, badder, bolder! If the Mayans say this is the last, we might as well rock out doing all the things we’ve always dreamed of doing. Hit me up in the comments and let me know what 2012 is looking like for you! I’d love to hear your inspiration.

In the meantime, enjoy this big tune that has been running Dominica since I landed, definitely my theme song for 2012!

 

Can Idle Hands do God’s Work?

So as I approach the date of my departure from the Good Ol’ US of A, I keep getting the same response from people as I share my plans (minimalist as they are) for next year. The plan in a nutshell: Move to Dominica. Write. Think. Sunbathe. Seabathe. Riverbathe. Yoga. Read. Hike.  Learn more about Dominican culture, including Patios and some family history. Rinse and Repeat. When the Spirit sees fit, I will move on to another region of the world, whether it’s another island or another continent (I see you, Brazil). Learn a new language, learn about a new culture. Read. Write. Relax, Rinse and Repeat…you get the picture.  Not too heavy on the details. So when people ask me, “What are you going to do? How long are you going to be there?” I just kinda smile and say something to ease their anxiety, which  more often than not, is way greater than mine.

The truth of the matter is, detailed plan or not, I am going to see the world. I am so amused by the “What if’s” and the “OMG, I wish I could do that”…Once again, I guess its me not thinking that the things I do are irregular, or unique in any way. I am completely surprised by the awe and amazement with which people respond to the news.  To be totally honest, since I made the decision to leave, I have not had a WTF moment, a hesitation, or  a moment doubt at all. It feels like I’ve finally said yes to something God has been whispering in my ear for the past 5 years. I had completely forgotten that my goal after graduating undergrad was to go to Dominica and teach…funny how God never stops nudging, even after you’ve become desensitized to the thumps.

The one thing that has given me pause is the thought of having too much free time on my hands (i think the twittersphere would call that a #firstworldproblem)wh Shame isn’t it? I have been so caught up in this Western way of being a Human Doing that my biggest fear about leaving the country is remembering how to be a Human Being. You should see me, on the computer every night, googling things to do, making To Do Lists of what I want to accomplish with my time down there, looking at grad schools to apply to in my downtime. And every time I pop open another website, Spirit  tells me to Stop. Stop planning, leave time to let God’s plan unfold….it is very difficult to see God’s vision when you are so busy trying to orchestrate the next step.It’s funny how we say we have faith, but stay trying to devise a backup plan before we’ve even given plan A a chance.

At my spiritual center a few weeks back, we had a Visioning Workshop. The practitioner leading the workshop explained that the difference between visioning and visualizing in the following manner;  visualizing is us, using or human desire to paint a picture of what we think we want in the future. Visioning, is being still and allowing Spirit or your intuition to instruct you on what the Vision is. If you’re lucky, the 2 will eventually come to be in alignment. During the session one of the participants shared that she had been visualizing owning a Benz and wondered what it meant if the Benz didn’t show up in her vision. The practitioners responded, “Honey, that might just be Spirit saying, Get out of my way so I can give you a whole fleet of cars!” It’s a trivial example, but I think it does represent how we move sometimes. Like people keep giving me all the reasons why they could never do what I plan to do, whether it be work, money, or shopping as one honest young man told me today lol. These are the very same people who complain about how much they hate their jobs, spend money on clothes that they wear to the job they hate, and then constantly complain about being broke and pray that God will “deliver” them. These same folks are too afraid to let go of all the stuff they’ve been “blessed” with to make room for a little quiet time to hear what God really has in store for them.

As for me, I’m stepping out on faith. And praying that I can remove the infamous mantra my mother was famous for throwing around, “idle hands do the devils work” from my psyche. For the next few months, I am committed to being quite content with idle hands, because if I know Spirit like I think I do, my work is already being planned. Just gotta be willing to sit still long enough to get the call!

What about you massive? Is there anything you’ve been feeling like you’re being led to do? What’s standing in between you and answering that call?

Aint I a Woman?

“In America, it is quite easy to forget that you are a woman…it is even harder, sometimes, to remember that you are a lady.” I wrote these words this morning as I got dressed to go out and run errands on a rare midweek mental health day, not quite stress free due to the laundry list of things that needed to be accomplished, but liberating nonetheless because of the surprisingly sunny November day and temporary reprieve from an otherwise stressful job situation. As I decided what to put on, searching my closet mentally for what would be the most comfortable and incognito thing to put on as I tackled my to do list, i took a long, slow pause in the mirror. I realized how long it had been since I had looked at myself and been excited about the reflection that I saw looking back at me. Hell, the last time I slowed down enough to really see what was looking back at me. A quick glance here, quick frown at protruding body parts there. Ive spent so little time lately thinking about what I wear, getting excited about materials that feel great on my skin or colors that make my heart happy, rather depending on old staples for comfort and familiarity. I paused to look down at my toes, rugged and tortured, having had no attention since my birthday 2 months ago, and put down the bleach stained sweats I was about to throw on. ” I am a woman, G-od damn it,” I thought to myself, “How long has it been since you considered that?”  Lately, I have been on such a quest of self discovery, wondering about my path, grinding between school and work, that being a woman, being soft, being feminine, hell being cute, has not even been a consideration for me. The idea of success in this country or so intrinsically tied with “masculine” qualities…there is little room for nurturing yourself or anyone else when you are focused on your destination. Not to mention that my journey to self has made dealing with men sort of an alien concept, and the brothers around here do not have me interested in a friendly intergalactic contact. So I hide, dress mad non descriptive, do very little in the way of decorating myself less i attract unwarranted attention, especially from someone who would only interrupt me from my path….sigh…its so much. What is this place? Where drive means alone and we become okay with the coldness and the loneliness and the ugliness. I enjoy being and feeling beautiful…I’m almost afraid to write this for fear of the American feminist monsters who have tried to convince us that enjoying men’s attention or wearing fashionable clothes is a sin against freedom.

But the Sun always reminds me of my true self. You know the moment when you see how amazing everything is when its drenched in sunlight and you realize that you too are a reflection of those rays and that its only right that you let your own shine. This is why I need to escape. I know where home is. Places where the sun is almost always shining. Places where my aesthetic is valued and i never question why or whether I’m beautiful…places where i never worry about what I’m eating or my size because I am so happy and free and warm, that I am outside all day, walking, enjoying the sun, receiving smiles, being appreciated….I want to go there. And there I will be soon…relearning and reminding myself of what it means to be a lady.  But for today, I’ll throw on my skinny jeans, and my comfortable shoe boots that make my booty look a lil bigger (or a lil less small), the same shoes that almost sound like heels when I walk and provide the soundtrack to my slightly exaggerated swag, throw on Osun’s yellow and a scarf that screams “Im not from here and I’m way too cool for this city”, stunnas keep the riffraff from getting a glimpse of the magical eyes and pop out the door, bopping to the beat of my own flyness :0)

Soooo MoE massive, this was a semi experiential post. Part post/ part potential chapter in a book (more on that later). It literally just came to me today and I had to get it out! Hope you enjoy…feel free to share feedback. Hopefully, there will be more to come.

FOR SALE: Young, Burnt out Teacher with Little Experience outside of the Classroom…

Today a young, new teacher resigned from a “high stakes, data-driven” charter school. Not because of the unruliness of her students or problems in her classroom, but because she physically could not handle the intensity and pressure these schools require. This young woman; 25, recently engaged, planning a wedding, with every reason to be happy, instead was suffering from anxiety attacks, throwing up every morning before coming into work,  and crying every afternoon when returning to work.  Once a fun-loving, physically fit, vegetarian,  this young lady now suffers from high blood pressure and sees a mental health therapist weekly, primarily as a result of her position at this school, where she began teaching in September of this year.

But all of that, isn’t even the crazy part! What’s nuts is her colleagues response to her resignation. The response ranged from shock to anger, but most admiration, and one would possibly even say, jealousy. And then the stories came. One colleague shared how his marriage was on the brink of divorce from the amount of time he spent at the school, one almost in tears sharing the story of how her fiancé ended up leaving her as a result of her work at the school. Alcoholism was noted as a popular struggle. None of them attempted to dissuade her, in fact, all of them agreed that they wished they could be in her shoes and as brave as she was for deciding to leave.

As one colleague put it, “this place is like a drug, and we’re all addicts.”

In order for these new “high stakes” schools to get the results that they do,  including significant academic gains for students and improved standardized test scores (in comparison to other students of the same SES), teachers at these institutions must literally pledge their entire lives to achieving these standards. It is not unusual for a teacher to arrive at 7 am  and leave the building after 8 pm in order to lesson plan and prep,  only to be on required “call duty” for students and parents phone calls about homework and other school related issues until 9 pm. Papers still have yet to be graded, families not tended to, husbands and wives barely acknowledged, not to mention any other life responsibilities that need to take place. Now this would be all well and good, if that same teacher didn’t have to wake up in the morning do that all again, put on the mask required of teachers at this institution since there really isn’t room for personality in the curriculum, and on top of it all, be constantly watched, monitored, and observed in order for the administration to collect data. In addition through jumping through every legislative mandate designed to “hold teachers accountable”  and try to convince teenagers why they should jump through standardized tests hoops held up by the public education circus. It is exhausting. We haven’t even considered the emotional and physical taxation of being up in front of teenagers, for 8 hours, with 30 minutes for lunch (half of which is spent keeping kids out of trouble in the hallways or helping students who need extra help or in meetings) and a 50 minute prep period, that  after decompressing and having a minute to breathe, will only be long enough to put a tiny dent in the pile of never-ending paperwork that a teacher must complete.

But even that, is not what truly disturbs me. The most disturbing thing about this is the response of burnt out teachers who are at the end of their rope but choose to remain in their current torture. “Where would I go?”, “What else would I do?” “ I hate the classroom, but I hate accounting more.” “I’ve only been a teacher, I’m not qualified to do anything else.”” How do I even start another career when I have no background, no experience, I don’t even know what the choices are!”

Really, yall?? Is this our expectation for the education system?  Do we really want a bunch of burnt out, non-functioning, miserable, misguided zombies training the children, OUR children, who are supposed to be our future? Am I crazy for thinking that there has got to be a better way? It’s seem like I am because everyone’s response is akin to the Kanye Shrug…..”That’s just the way it is.” “This is how school was for me, I hated it, but you get over it.” Are we not even considering the possibility of a sustainable alternative for education? Are we really just going to keep standing in front of the classroom, playing the violin as this educational Titanic continues to sink?….There has got to be some tug boats nearby! Where the hell is the educational Coast Guard?

For my teachers, what else would you be if you couldn’t return to your classroom tomorrow? Do you think you were prepared in your formative years to know how to explore various careers or to even know what options existed besides your basic “teacher, lawyer, doctor” standards?  I really think teaching has become the default profession for people who have no idea what the hell else to do with their lives after college. How many Teach for America members their childhood dreaming about becoming a teacher? Teach for America is one of the few jobs that will come to campus ro recruit liberal arts student and the convenience of that is way too significant when you consider how resourceful a student must be to seek out career counseling and find internships, usually unpaid, in a random field of interest. How do we adjust our educational system so that kids who are not even aware of possibilities, know that jobs exists that will nurture their talents and allow them to grow professionally?  I believe that the system we have designed that doesn’t help students explore the God-given talents or gifts, that doesn’t expose them to a wide array of career possibilities, that doesn’t connect the curriculum to real world application is creating generations of kids who don’t even know how to answer the question, “What am  I good at?” much less “ What am I called to do?”  So we get a bunch of idealistic undergrads who are good with their younger siblings, or had a mostly positive experience tutoring inner city kids for community service that decide to give teaching a shot, only to be sorely disappointed when they enter a classroom.  After school programs and one on one mentoring programs are cute, but they are an entirely different beast than teaching a child who could give 2 craps about a No Child Left Behind or who’s achievement gap you are trying to close!

The reality of it is, we know that sticking kids in a school building for 8 hours, in rows in front of a chalkboard (or smartboard) is the least effective method for teaching. Humans learn by doing, by exploring, by playing, by sharing, by writing creatively, by traveling.  If  any reason is more telling that our educational system is not effective, just look at this lost ass generation of mini adults who don’t what the hell to do with themselves so  instead stay in miserable, school-factories jumping through hoops for a damn paycheck because they literally can’t think of a way out ! No disrespect at all intended to my colleagues, but how do we create a society of independent, well rounded, free thinkers when the very people charged with the task haven’t learned to liberate themselves?

 Am I tripping? Is it like this for everybody? Am I just so entrenched in the world of education that I don’t hear about the struggles of other early career starters? What do other non pre professional people do instead of teach? What are some other career option and what are the requirements for those positions? How do people find out about the obscure but fabulous positions? And do other positions feel this around the clock stress and pressure to perform with little or no time to even just be alone with your thoughts?

Sigh.  I know this is a lot, but  this is literally the laundry list of questions that run through my head all day. I would love to hear thoughts of folks outside of the educational field and anyone else who  an. I’m tired of asking the questions…I need some answers!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.