Disappointed…

I don’t like writing about race. It’s my least favorite subject to write about and honestly, it’s something that I try to ignore every day despite what I see when I look in the mirror. With my mixed background and my recently dyed hair, I’ve had some people come up and ask me what ethnicity I am- it’s easy to lie and hide, telling them that I’m not this. At the same time, I can be bundled up, riding my bike to school and someone in a passing by car shouts out “hey, nigger” from their window- that person knows my truth. Race is unfortunately a part of my life- as well as many other lives.

I didn’t want to write about the events from last night- Darren Wilson, the white officer many accused with the killing of the unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, was not indicted with any criminal charges. A St. Louis County grand jury, consisting of nine whites and three blacks individuals, made the decision last night, stating there was little evidence to press charges on the officer. This announcement sparked outcry all across the United States, with protests springing up in nearly every major city– including my own. If people in my city are upsetting, crying out about this, how could I not write about this and not let my own voice be heard?

I didn’t hear the announcement until a few hours later. My heart sank in disappointment and but in all actuality, I wasn’t surprised. It is not the first time a man was able to walk away. I don’t know much about our justice system other than what I learned about in school. I never served on a jury and I never studied a murder case before. But I still question the jury’s decision and wonder if any form of justice will ever be held. At the end of the day, a man was killed.

Last night as we drove home from dinner, my boyfriend and I talked about the rioting and looting in Missouri after the verdict was announced. I explained to him that I don’t necessarily support the rioting but I understand and sympathize with the reason why the people in Ferguson are doing so. Martin Luther King, Jr. said moments before his assassination, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” As disheartening it is to admit, sometimes one needs to see and experience violence in order to change. Yes, change can happen without guns and bullets and fire starters but in the end, years from now, will we remember the peaceful protests or the vandalism? After the fires smolder out and those who were arrested last night are freed, I wonder if the protestors will look at what they did and plan on doing something better- perhaps running for a position in their local government where they will be able to make a lasting change to their community.

One of the things I keep thinking about is how this will affect the future of Black America. My boyfriend and I talk about one day, adopting a family. I want to adopt sons- growing up in a house filled with sisters, I wanted sons since the moment I decided that I wanted kids. I can imagine a beautiful little boy- my son- with dark smooth skin holding my hand at the market. I don’t want that child to be afraid– to be afraid that people who are supposed to serve and protect him will end up hurting him; to be afraid of being accused doing something negative and violent just because he looks a certain way; to be afraid of being stopped for no reason. No child should grow up afraid. No one should walk out of their house afraid, terrified of words and other’s wrong actions.

As I look to the future, I hope… I hope that we can all learn what happened and make some serious change. I hope people will hold themselves accountable for their actions, both right and wrong, instead of hiding in the shadows or proudly boasting about it. I hope those who deserve both justice and punishment receive it. I hope more people will respond to their government politics and vote for those who actually represent them and their beliefs, so that everyone’s voice could be heard. I hope that people won’t turn a blind eye and an ignorant heart watching an event in a place that’s not in their backyard. I hope that people will start respecting each other regardless of their profession and their race.

One can hope…

A Balancing Act

Over this last year, there has been a lot of change in my life- going back to school, my new job at Artown, my new-ish boyfriend (we’ve been together for an amazing nine months), more social invites. With my new job, I’m determined to be the best I can be, pouring out most of my energy into my work. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. I haven’t worked a full-time, 9-to-5 job in a couple years so I’m not used to this schedule- sometimes I feel like I will never get used to it. Add to the mix my social circles, the freelance writing I do and school. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time balancing everything. Friends call to ask if I want to hang out and I cancel- all I want to do it fall asleep to an old episode of “Friends” and not wake up until the next week, but I decide to keep myself up until three in the morning to finish my Spanish homework.

I do so much because I want to be the best that I can be. People tell me that I stress out too much; that I need to be easier on myself. Although, I understand and agree with that they’re saying, my philosophy is that you only have this one life to live and it’s up to you to make it great- be a doer, not a dream. If you’re lazy in bed all day, you have stamped  yourself “lazy” – it’s right there in big, bright letters on your forehead. If you work hard, you are labeled a “hark worker.” I believe those with incredible goals have to work especially hard to make those dreams come true- AND they will come true if you put in the time and effort. This is why I’m always busy- I’m making my dreams come true.

In this process of making those dreams come true, I found myself so buried with things to accomplish (see what was listed above). I know that I need to look through my list and pick out the things that aren’t essential to my life- but I have tried and I can’t choose. I need my job because I need my paycheck in order to survive. I’m a class away from finishing school- I need to finish. Plus, having my degree will allow me to purse bigger and bright career opportunities, especially since I want to move to a bigger city in the near future (hello, 2015!). I love my boyfriend- and even though I know that I shouldn’t rely on him for my happiness- he is that one thing that makes me constantly happy and I want to build a future with him. I need my friends for obvious reasons. I already sacrificed my personal time (which is fine). I read that if you need to de-stress your life, you need to cut the non-essential out. So, what do I cut: my job, school, my boyfriend or my friends?

During this time of busy-ness, I want to stress the fact of taking care of yourself. Sleep and food may be the last things on your mind but they are essential (this is coming from a person who hasn’t eaten in the last couple of days). No one can rule the world on an empty stomach and an hour’s worth of sleep. Remember that your body can only do so much. Your mind may be pressing you on but if your frame is telling you to go to bed, go to sleep!

Dear reader, I ask you for your advice– how do you balance everything? How do you go about the craziness of your day and manage to eat a proper dinner and sleep at the end of the day?

A Slice of Courage: Amy Poehler

Do you ever see a woman out on the street or on the television and wish that she was your best friend? I feel this way about Amy Poehler. With my lady crush aside, Poehler is someone I wish that I could be- not for her celebrity, but her humor, confidence and (okay) her platinum blond hair. I loved watching her on “SNL” and on her current show, “Parks and Recreation,” and I frequently visit her website, Smart Girls, where Amy and her famous friends (like my other lady crush, Tina Fey) present inspiring stories and advice to young women.

If you look at my computer, you’ll notice my rotating desktop is dedicated to Ms. Poehler. During the times I need a pick-me-up or the motivation to keep going, I look at her quotes floating around on my screen and imagine that she is sitting next to me, sharing her guidance. Below are some of my favorite things she said- maybe they will become your favorites, too…

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When the world feels tough and cold, I sit down for a moment and think of something that recently made me laugh- sometimes, it’s Poehler’s work. That good memory allows me to get back on my feet and keep moving. I throw my fist up in the air, woo hoo to myself and think, yeah, Amy would totally approve.

(And Santa, I would really like her autobiography for Christmas. Thanks.)

Dear reader- who is your role model? Who are you looking up to today? 

Being Good To Yourself

With yesterday being a holiday, I stayed home from work and did absolutely nothing: I laid in bed all day, reading Veteran’s Day memorial posts and watching Tom Hardy movies (it’s all about his lips- sorry, boyfriend). Five o’clock rolled around and I began to feel bad that I let my day “go to waste.” I only put on clothes to grab lunch and feed the neighborhood feline. I recently started typing out my to-do lists (since I’m always losing post-it notes) and all the things I told myself on Monday that I would accomplish on Tuesday… well, they didn’t happen. The mental fists sprung up and I began beating myself up.

I used to think that being good to yourself meant that you were lazy, letting yourself slide all the time. I realize now it simply means giving yourself a break. That’s what I did yesterday- I was giving myself a day long break. You can still work hard but you can also still have fun. You can still relax and take it easy. We work eight hours a day, with hectic lives outside our place of employment-we have school, children, dreams to look after and sometimes, we just need that physical and mental break in order to clear our heads and keep our sanity in check. It’s in times like that where we need to remind ourselves to stop being so hard and give ourselves more credit… Give yourself the time to enjoy the day and the comfort of your bed and blanket and your snuggle buddy- and stop the stress with trying to be perfect. As much as I want to do and have everything (the career, the social life, the grades, a decent sleeping schedule, etc.), I realize that I will never have it all- no one does. There is always so sort of sacrifice to be made. Being good to yourself is realizing that- you can never have it all so take what you can get (especially if it’s an extra four hours of sleep).

At the same time, though, I think about being good to yourself is deeper than giving yourself that occasional break. It’s about treating yourself well. Time off to mediate. Not feeling awful for canceling plans with friends (just don’t do it all the time). When I think about treating myself well, I think about going to the gym and the rush of endorphins I feel. Or how I feel after finishing up a homework assignment. Or my feelings while making the effort to bike across town for a therapy session. Or simply brushing my teeth- because having a squeaky clean mouth feels GOOD. I focus on the good feelings. I believe that is what we need to look at- the good, positive feelings that stimulate our bodies and minds. Being good to ourselves is about the good vibes we create for ourselves- vibes without all the stress and pressure from the outside world, just what feels good to us. Only we can decide what feels good and what works for us, I say, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, do what makes you happy and feels good.

So, dear reader… Take it easy. Stop being so hard on yourself. Give yourself more credit.

You deserve it.

This is me telling you to BE GOOD TO YOURSELF!

This is me telling you to BE GOOD TO YOURSELF!

A Slice of Courage: Be Yourself

“It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.”

Have a beautiful Friday, everyone!