There is a special kind of grace for the ones who choose to brave themselves through the words, "I love you" and "I want you". I wish this bravery came to me as a steady wave washing over my feet. Instead, it is always a fever--a heart-swell with imperfect timing.
I haven't spent a single weekend of the last two months at home. From Memphis to Jamestown to Atlanta to Indianapolis, all of my thoughts have been on where I'm going instead of why I'm here.
This has resulted in me crashing into my bedroom late on Sunday nights. I'd toss my bag on the floor, clean off my sleepy face, and dread the pile up of laundry that I'd neglect to do for another week. I'd dread the process of waking up the next morning. I'd dread spending another $4.00 on a black coffee because I'd forgotten to buy coffee beans again (every time). Then, I'd dread staying at the office another 3 - 4 hours to squeeze in more work before certain meetings or events. Rinse and repeat.
Add to that my bill-phobia and relational/emotional issues and you have this result:
a pile(s) up of clutter.*
a graveyard of coffee cups in my car.
sleeping on the couch because I'm afraid of my room.
heaping loads of shame in my heart.
a well-intentioned recycle bin/pile.*
a perpetually empty fridge. except kale and beer.
my herb garden died.
I used to consider myself a minimalist, but that is sooo funny right now. At this point, I'm just a fed-up lady in her mid-twenties trying to break down some generational curses and heal her money wounds (both self-inflicted and bad habits, learned).
I am, however, fascinated by intentional/minimal living. I've been observing it closely for the last four years. A couple of my favorite documentaries, Minimalism and Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary, have challenged me in irrevocable ways. Sources like these encourage me to question how I can further unhinge myself from the grip of objects and the objectification of people. How can I further introduce spaciousness and healing into my inner world? How can I do it artfully--with color, burning inspiration, and a hope to occupy my space with mindful gentility?
After listening to a podcast interview between Alex Elle and Roe from Brown Kids, I felt even more empowered to step into this hard and necessary process of cleansing, discipline, and strength. When I think of the kind of life I want to live--and the kind of life I'd like to nurture for the family I hope to have--I think of complete and utter freedom. I think of wide-open access to joy and the type of inner-wellness that I know many others, like myself, are starving for. When I think of what it might take to live this kind of empowered life, I think of Roe's words, "Freedom is self-care."
my two-week challenge:
As of today, I am $45,000 in debt. 45K. No, I'm not challenging myself to pay off 45k in two weeks but, I am purging my belongings and fasting from excess spending. For me, this isn't just chucking out a bunch of stuff. It's an internal examination of my value system. This is me deciding to further pursue intentional and artful living.
A Spending Fast:
- no expenses, except bills and groceries.
- purge every ounce of excess - give shit away.
- recycle the clothing + paper waste.
- start a compost.
- practice gratitude through meditation + affirmation. (spoken aloud, 4 min. daily)
- the meditation: God has already provided for all of my needs. Thank you, Papa.
- the affirmation: I can steward my finances with love and generosity toward myself and others.
My plan is to share bits and pieces of this process along the way. I don't intend to make this space one of the many money-saving blogs with tips and tricks on how to make choco-cookies for less than a dollar. This writing space is reserved for my soul care and my encouragement. I may not share every detail, but I do want to invite anyone reading these words into my process. I wouldn't doubt that many others are also battling financial and materialistic shame. I wouldn't doubt that if you've made it this far in reading this post (bless you!), you might also feel the weight of this process. It's hard. Financial wounds can honestly feel super vulnerable and isolating. But, guess what?
Freedom is self-care. Self-care is self-love. Let's learn to love ourselves, despite the mess.
My biggest compliment/critique is that I seem to have it all together, but I know three solid people (including myself) who will negate that, v quickly. This week:
- I have eaten granola and almond milk for breakfast, dinner, and lunch several times
- I spilled coffee on my jeans, a couple times
- I wrote a horrible song
- I wrote a few even worse poems
- I wrote a rap. 'nuff said
- I accidentally pushed away another friend
- I finally spoke to my dad again after ignoring his texts for months (he forgave me!)
- I ate chicken tenders (supposed to be transitioning vegetarian? lol)
- Tried to cure my loneliness with attention and chicken tenders (and french fries)
- I spent a little too much on coffee (again)
- I wasn't sure about makeup on Tuesday or Wednesday
- I slept in my car twice this week because I was too exhausted to make it up the stairs
- I overworked, again
We could go on. I wish I could say that my life is a solid display of #blackgirlmagic, but it's not. The day-to-day may not look like magic, but hey, we're still here. We're still breathing. Our bones are still in our bodies. The melanin is still poppin'. Our eyes are still full of hopes and dreams. We got this. We're doing our best. Forget respectability politics and "twice-as-good" rhetoric for a second and let's just know that we are enough. We are so enough.
black girls existing
black girls breathing
black girls loving
black girls healing.
We're black girls wanted,
black girls joyous,
we are black girls here for fullness.
we're here for wholeness,
here for wellness,
and we are enough.
It's okay to have a hard week and a hard day. It's okay to fail. It's okay to win, too.
photo cred: death to stock photo
I believe that at the end of the day love will always, always win; but love without action is a pack of false promises.
To this, we respond,
"Okay, well prayer is an action. Pray and have faith that God will move."
Yet, if we just pray--to a God who has told us to do the work of showing up and loving--isn't that a lack of action, too? Sure, demand that the demons flee from the white supremacists and terrorists. Command the oceans to be still--whatever you feel you need to believe for and about it--go for it. But, if nothing happens, what then?
For example, if you prayed for the storm in Florida to shift, you might've felt some sense of relief when the storm, indeed, shifted. You might've felt that urgency to "do something" leave you because "God" has answered you and your intercessory prayer. But how many lives have still been affected? Especially the poor?
But then we say, "I cannot go to the poor and affected, I don't have the vacation time, or the money. Where will I stay? What will I do when I get there? Who can I help? What can my life do?"
And then we keep scrolling. And post about it. Or ignore it all together. While the people we say we've "grieved for" continue to grieve, and to work and rebuild. While the ones we've sent our prayers and positive vibes to continue to wonder where their next meal is coming from. The credit card bills that still need to be paid. Their lost pets. Their deceased. Their broken windows. Their torn bodies. Their minds, lost. Their bodies, lost.
What can we say then? My questions:
- How sweet it must feel to them to be thought of at first?
- How hard and isolating must it feel to be thought of, but left alone after a while?
- How loved it must feel, to be thought of; to be seen, and known, and helped?
Without action, our prayers alone are a self-gratifying and convenient response to desperation. Encouragement is so good and wholesome, but without action, it, too, is a self-gratifying response to the devastation. Sending vibes sounds like an objective, light-hearted position to take toward someone experiencing a bad day. Without action, it's also a self-gratifying and convenient response to human depravity.
Here me say this: it's okay to pray, encourage, and send vibes. Please pray. Pray Loud. Pray Hard. Intercede with your whole heart. Send as many vibes as you want! Please. But just know that without action, all of these responses are empty and irresponsible words thrown to the internet from the privilege of our safety.
So, let's leverage the privilege of our safety. Let's use our resources. Let's turn this dialogue around.
Do the work. Act.
A biblical example of prayer and action: ezekial and the vision of the dry bones
"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around and among them, and behold, there were very many on the surfaces of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, "O Lord God, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews up on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord' I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord."
- Ezekiel 37:1 - 14