Saturday, July 11, 2015

Precious At Last

The Black woman is the most unprotected, unloved woman on earth…she is the only flower on earth…that grows unwatered.-   Kola Boof, Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist and poet 

I had feared that I would be one of those Black women who is truly loved after she is dead. I have been to funerals throughout my life where Black women lay in their caskets and the people that now love them look down in deep sadness and sometimes surprise that she, their rock, their shelter is gone. I feared I would join them, getting my reward after I had spent a lifetime not living my life, but doing what I must to make life better for others.

I, like too many Black women, often only find our love reciprocated after we have sacrificed time, money, energy, and dreams in an effort to be enough, be worthy of love. What I have, in the past felt loved for was my utility. Whether in the church, mosque or home. I, and most of the Black women I have known, are not treasured and certainly not viewed as precious. We are, like our female ancestors, valued for our labor. No longer the plantation, those fields are now reconfigured, we now labor for family and community, often doing work in isolation. In fact, the more solitary my activity, the more arduous, the more strain it caused me the more accolades I received.

I feared that I would always have to barter work for love. I would perform the alchemy of turning my loneliness and pain into the fuel that would enable me to do even more, give even more, and therefore, be even more. There was no one that would come to me and say "You've done enough." As I observe women who are literally giving themselves to death, they like my former self, may be waiting for someone who loves them to give them permission to just be, to stop and just be loved.

On my sixty-second birthday I realize that I no longer have to fear having a funeral in which those who ignored my preciousness will howl at my departure. My life s peopled by those who see me as worthy, as wonderful, as precious and for them the only thing I have to do is breathe. Their arrival in my life only occurred as I began to step into my own heart, my own spirit, my own dreams. My movement was and often continues to be tentative, but all along my journey there have been those that moved toward me, the courage with which they lived their lives encouraging my own strength. I thank all of them and myself for choosing to live our lives in authenticity and courage.

I am celebrating my birthday by writing--my gift, my joy, my journey.

It is a wonderful and wondrous thing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Freedom: Confronting Myself

When I dare to be powerful -- to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. Audre Lorde

I am daring a lot these days. The greatest dare is to be free. I have left a marriage that defined me in ways I am only just discovering. I am daring to have faith that my son will "forgive" my disruption of his world, even as I know that I am opening a new and better world for him to explore. I am daring to explore my strength, develop my vision and to explore what it is for me to be without fear.

Resting in the grooves of an oppressive person or environment has served the delusion that I must be free of Him. This gigantic presence I've tried to appease over the years lest I be demolished, was and always has been simply a man. I invested him with such power and now that I have stepped away I bear the scars of submission to that illusion and know I will have flashbacks like any veteran of a war, but I am now reacting (when I do) to the past.

I have moved on. There is no destination now. I wander groundless and exist in the love and support of a family I could not have imagined. I have fear, but I also have courage. That courage showed itself in my ability to leave and live. In the end the great confrontation is with myself. I have freed me and now can look in the mirror of this world without any filters.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Embracing My Wise Woman/Crone Self

Do not become alarmed when you experience yourself in totally new ways," sighs Grandmother Growth tenderly. "You are changing, getting ready to be initiated into the third stage of your life. Are you ready for the ride of your life?
Susun Weed, Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Woodstock: Ash Tree, 2002

Over the last few years there has been a settling, a growing fearlessness. It can take the form of a kind of sassy attitude, but most often it is a deep sense of appreciation for the great joys and the terrible difficulties of this life. I think all women, all people, as we get older must decide whether we will not only live with our past, but embrace it or if we will instead, extract anger and bitterness as our primary life lessons.

I have chosen at this stage of my life, as I'd chosen earlier, to take the path of love, compassion and joy. I can't think of another way to die with a smile on my face and expectation of the existence to come, except to embrace this path. It is the fearlessness that enables me to embrace not only the difficulties of the present, but past trauma. I am saddened by harsh self judgements of so many of my younger friends and family.

I offer to them, when I can and when they are willing, the perspective and lessons that have come with my age: (1) love yourself, hating yourself for real or imagined failures don't move you forward; (2) love others, even if you can only do that from a distance; (3) don't stop doing either.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friends and Their Views

"Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself - no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are - completely; the good and the bad - and make changes as YOU see fit - not because you think someone else wants you to be different.” Stacey Charter

What is the quality of your intent?

Certain people have a way of saying things that shake us at the core. Even when the words do not seem harsh or offensive, the impact is shattering. What we could be experiencing is the intent behind the words. When we intend to do good, we do. When we intend to do harm, it happens. What each of us must come to realize is that our intent always comes through. We cannot sugarcoat the feelings in our heart of hearts. The emotion is the energy that motivates. We cannot ignore what we really want to create. We should be honest and do it the way we feel it. What we owe to ourselves and everyone around is to examine the reasons of our true intent.

My intent will be evident in the results.” Thurgood Marshall quotes

Friendship, particularly when its lasted over a period of years, is a crucible. It is a test of my ability to listen deeply, a way to see my similarity and differences with them. I am blessed with several who are very clear and/or very certain about what they think is right, and sometimes what I should or should not be doing. Sometimes their views come from great spirituality and conviction, other times from a place of pain and fear. Their views are training, a place for me to find my own strength.

As I change my life, my dress, my thinking, I have learned to see how resolute I am regarding all those things in how I react, choose not to react, or see their views as having validity in my life. It is interesting to be at a place and an age to feel so calm in the face of other strong people. These strong minded folks are sometimes mentors even when I deeply disagree with their views about me or others, but they remain my friends. As I grow and change, I hope they can continue to hold me as their friend.

I am blessed.

Monday, April 11, 2011


My hands are a lot like my mother's and a lot not. The contours similar, but these hands do not reflect the harsh work that she did, strong detergents and cleaning agents that were part of her work. Yet, they are a part of her, a part of my lineage.

I come from a long line of women, who like me, have lasted enough to see how time has massaged us. Those so-called wrinkles, feared by so many women were embraced by my All Mothers. An indication of our endurance through pain, sorrow, and despair with laughter, food, hugs from children and other women and even occasionally a man or two.

I have softer hands because my All Mothers gave me a life with less hazardous choices. I have these wrinkles because I have lived through time with focus and serendipity. I bow to the love of my All Mothers, I bow to myself.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This Second Spring

I began this blog as a place to explore aging and growth. Several months have elapsed since my last post and much has happened. The details are irrelevant, but the understanding that come from them are significant to me. Age brings knowledge that I can live through things, even very terrible things. My Buddhist practice allows me to enjoy the next breath, even if it follows a scream.

I am in my second Spring. It is not much like the first. There is no dewy skin and courage that comes out of ignorance. Instead, it's the ability to smile in the face of sadness and pain. I no longer seek refuge from myself. I love myself and others because this being human is a wonderful and difficult enterprise. I am no longer interested in justice, only wisdom and compassion.

This second Spring is not about the exuberance of youth but the joy of life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Ain't Dead Yet

I've been sick, feeling old, fighting and confronting stories. Today I experienced a beautiful fall day and reached out for help, a very hard thing for me to do. I remembered Edgar Guest's poem, "I Ain't Dead Yet." I wanted to remind myself of the beauty and wisdom of this poem and share it with whoever stops by.

Time was I used to worry and I'd sit around an' sigh,
And think with every ache I got that I was goin' to die,
I'd see disaster comin' from a dozen different ways
An' prophesy calamity an' dark and dreary days.
But I've come to this conclusion, that it's foolishness to fret;
I've had my share o' sickness, but I


Wet springs have come to grieve me an' I've grumbled at the showers,
But I can't recall a June-time that forgot to bring the flowers.
I've had my business troubles, and looked failure in the face,
But the crashes I expected seemed to pass right by the place.
So I'm takin' life more calmly, pleased with everything I get,
An' not over-hurt by losses, 'cause I


I've feared a thousand failures an' a thousand deaths I've died,
I've had this world in ruins by the gloom I've prophesied.
But the sun shines out this mornin' an' the skies above are blue,
An' with all my griefs an' trouble, I have somehow lived 'em through.
There may be cares before me, much like those that I have met;
Death will come some day an' take me, but I


[The end]
Edgar A. Guest's poem: I Ain't Dead Yet