Top 5 Methods for Fixing Everything

We have experienced another year of alterations that cinched the seams of us all. Making us more creative as we have looked inward, allowing us to touch the sensitive parts of ourselves that we buried under work. Making us work harder to be shown as irreplaceable and durable. Our worth tossed between the inevitable revelation that we must still take care of ourselves and others, financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) No one needs another TOP 3-5 list

Listening to the needs and wants of others helps you push product, whether the product is you or your ideas. But many folks, these days, aren’t seeking that type of click-bait. They need more than a list, a list of which you’ve devised based on self-help ideas gathered in most common places. Without strategies that help people apply these ideas and skills you suggest, your posting becomes a reminder of deficits. It is advice without advising.

woman in white long sleeve holding wooden paint brush
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Point your audience in the direction of what you intend to share with them. Names and links that allow individuals to take a deeper dive into the subject you are illuminating. In the medium of writing or research, this would be included in footnotes or endnotes. This is how you support your reliability speaking on a topic. Even this caters to the speaker’s position but it also reassures and supports the audience.

2) Commiserate

I know we want to present ourselves a particular way to the wider audience we can reach and possibly be exactly that which they want reflected back to them. Is that really you? I mean, go ahead and be a cardboard cutout and wave at the public with an ever-present grin. That’s less work than being a cog or an automaton. Which is definitely more work than being a bot. So be yourself. If that allows you to be real and raw with others, honest in a way that frees anyone from the binds of what suppresses us, then that is good work.

When ignorance arises to attack that good work, it’s not a sign to stop. It is not welcomed; to find that opposition to our best selves be given power to silence us. Question our intentions for the betterment of everyone. If that work isn’t good enough for others, it must be good enough for you. Assure yourself of what you share and why you share so when it is called into question you are ready for that conversation or confrontation; even if that confrontation is with the Self.

3) 2022

The highs and lows of the last 2 years are palpable. Partnerships broken and made whole. Lives lost to the very same mortal toils as before the before. The distance between family, friends and the ideas they ponder. Getting back to normal has not happened. Believing “normal” is what we need is a reminder that some of us would prefer a blindfold. Live as we always did, some of us willfully ignorant, others vying for a liberation found on the other side of pristine glass.

4) Do something for you

Read more books. Question. Be kind. Be honest with yourself. Rest. Let the inevitable guilt go. Enter each day as if it is a new year. Don’t commit to a daily routine that makes you feel beholden. Praying, eating, sleeping, exercising, and drinking water can happen when you need them to, especially when you may need more prayer and water than you think.

5)…

I wish you good fortune today and tomorrow. May your dreams be realized, may you realize your true dreams.

That Woman at Brewster Place: Cicely Tyson An Icon 🤎

Cicely Tyson, featured in the cast photo far left, flatters in every light. She has passed on (1924-2021). The day of the Full Moon. A great power.

Cicely Tyson reacts to her introduction while conductor Seiji Ozawa, a fellow recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, applauds during a reception at the White House on Dec. 6, 2015.
CHRIS KLEPONIS / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

I’m sure a film historian or artist biographer could write something much more profound about Miss Tyson. But I’m going to tell you this. She acted in films that made you proud to be Black or a woman or poor or struggling. None of these things are strictly tragic roles. She uplifted what was heavy. She took her light and made you look at what’s dark.

The above photo is from the series The Women of Brewster Place based on the book by Gloria Naylor. It highlights the lives of the women living in a tenement home. They are all Black archetypes, “representation” before I knew what it was or that I needed it. It premiered in 1989. Even as a child I saw myself reflected in the pain of these people on the margins. Trying to survive with their dignity in tact. Demanding dignity no matter the lifestyle.

Thank you Miss Tyson, for all the work you’ve done. In gratitude for the legacy you leave behind. In honor of the life of a Black girl born in 1924.

Where are the brakes? Gender Identity, Childhood and Thorns

Many people police children’s behavior and needs based on their own experience in society. This is A Christmas Story, but I didn’t “shoot [my] eye out”, I lost control.

The only gifts I recall from this particularly sunny Christmas season were the two bikes we received. He got one in blue and black. Mine was hot pink and purple. I hated the colors.

Over the weekend, I rode the bikes. I asked my brother permission to ride his bike. My family couldn’t understand why I’d want to use his bicycle instead of mine, weren’t they the same? Nope.

The biggest difference, aside from the colors, was the placement of the brakes. My bike had brakes on the pedals. His bike had brakes on the handle bars. Being a child of the 80s, the cycles I rode included a Smurf Big Wheels and an adult bicycle from the 70s. I was also an athlete since the age of 4 1/2, so I was ready for the big time.

We had a steep driveway that ended with an iron gate. I rode that black and blue bike all Saturday afternoon. Come Sunday, I couldn’t anymore. “Ride your own!” So I did. Right into my mother’s rose bushes. It was either that or slam into the iron gate.

The problem was, I forgot where the brakes were. I made the run a couple times, but that final take-off down the drive-way was a doozy. In the middle of the ride, within micro seconds, my brain couldn’t react to forgetting where the brakes were and making a decision to cause the least damage. I swerved onto the lawn, just missing the iron gate, and flew over the handle bars landing on the top of several rose bushes.

As I lay (not dying) I stared up at the sky. What had I done? Where did I go wrong? I haven’t reached puberty yet, but I take the minutes to have an existential crisis. Then I realized that I had placed myself in a bed of thorns.

I’m pretty sure my brother was watching tv and saw what happened from the front windows. He ran out and, as I lay petrified, I told him to get our mother. I was literally in no position to help myself without causing more damage. But to me, or the roses?

I somehow rolled, stretched and pulled myself from the briars with my mother’s help. Her silent help. Her anger. I spent the next hour in the bathtub with my mother pulling out thorns with her tweezers.

Head to toe, I was covered in small points of pain. I felt like I deserved it. I was being punished for using the wrong bike. I wasn’t smart enough to think fast. I wasn’t strong enough to avoid myself.

A moment indelibly impressed upon my soul. I wasn’t a girl. I wasn’t a boy. I was a child trying to feel free.

They don’t know it, but I still stare at the location of those rose bushes whenever I visit. Time took them away and my parents replaced what could no longer thrive. Adjacent to the base of the driveway where I sat on my bag, years later, after “coming out”. A place where I am apparently confused. The boundary between who I am and what others want me to be.

(Oh me and Ralphie couldn’t catch a break! Even when something FRaGileee (fragile) was brought into the house.)