Masterminds on the L

Hoping you and your loved ones had a wonderful holiday. A holiday full of laughter, joy, warm hugs and time with friends dear and near. On a train ride home today it dawned on a good friend and co-worker of mine that our stars were just starting to align. Her online boutique was well under way and my hobby turned hustle was also taking off. Both are in the beginning stages, but taking baby steps toward the goal line: true enterprise. It was then it dawned on her that the struggle to get her clothing e-boutique off the ground was essentially the pay off in itself. There were times, like I, she didn’t take the endeavor seriously. There were times where she simply lacked the motivation. We also had in common the fear of sharing the journey and big picture with others. The idea of releasing your dreams out into the world to only see it come crashing down in flames was paralyzing at times. I can count on one hand when someone asked me how my product was doing or hear a passer by touch upon my niche and literally feeling the enthusiasm melt and my words disappear. How I wanted to yell “I make that, try us out!” Even as I write this I hesitate to disclose the product, concept, and market. I have since then spoke to industry professionals, close friends, co-workers, and branding strategist so I’ve gotten over some of the humps and reservations. I wouldn’t say I’m shouting it out from the roof tops but I’ve entrusted the idea and vision with those I trust. That’s me overcoming my fear in doses. Mostly out of for fear of being ripped off but mainly because I fear coming off arrogant or over confident considering “we’re not a successful” food and beverage brand just yet. So how can I sit here and tell you, who are reading this right now, to shout your future, present, and past successes and failures off the rooftop. As humans, we can easily be “do as I say, not as I do” bullshit masters. And as true is that might be who are we really helping? Really, the question is: who are we hurting? No one likely but we definitely are not helping our own development and productivity. I can’t even pinpoint the paranoia to a certain gender or demographic but what I can offer is this quote that glares at me from my bright green laptop screen. May it give you wings and the gusto to go after yours, honey! See you next year. Xoxo

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson, Author of Return to love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

She’s a Bad Mama Jam-a!

having-it-all

As I made the decision to plunge into motherhood I couldn’t help but feel that the majority of the mothers I encountered were leaving something out. Everyone admittedly exclaimed how hard it would be. Life as it is, is hard. So by no means did I think this was going to be a brunch in the park with all you can drink bloody marys. Nor did I shy away from the challenge because it was “hard”. There is nothing I can’t do, right? So I grabbed motherhood by the umbilical cord and roared “BRING IT!”

To be quite frank, parenting itself hasn’t been “hard”. My son just turned two and is yet to throw a fit or tantrum. OK maybe he’s pitched a real fit once or twice. But honestly, he’s rather quite enjoyable. The main concerns are his lack of stranger danger, affinity for water/spilling things, and his ability locate every sharp object he can get his hands on. What can I say? He likes to party. My only plight would be the lack of sleep. Currently at no fault of my little guy but of my unsound mine. It runs constantly. She is always cooking up the next move, the next catastrophe, the current insufficient bank account, the current state of affairs, the safety of the neighborhood, my death, my sons death, my next career move, my next meal, the next big idea, the next step back. “Are my eyebrows okay, are there too many points of entry to this duplex, am I saving enough for retirement, is this guy the one, am I terrible mother for entertaining a relationship? Is it a relationship? Should I leave NY? Do I need a coach? Do I need a financial advisor? Should I be a financial advisor? Do I hate my job? Do I hate my boss? Do I hate myself. Do I love myself? Am I being shafted in the custody/child support set-up? Do I even have a set-up?” The reality is she never shuts-up. The constant movement leaves me unable to focus at times rendering me either useless or the master of multi-tasking. All of which is exhausting. Right now, I’m thinking it’s time to cook, post this rambling already, take a gig or remove my availability because working full-time, single parenting, hosting a blog, hocking coquito and maintaining a long distance situationship isn’t enough. I’ve recently taken on catering gigs. I need to do whatever I can with every inch of my body to make sure the roof over my head stays there, the food in my fridge is stocked, the smile on my baby’s face is wide, and the smile on my face is straight and white too.

My body is aching and creaking just thinking about it. But at what point is it pure determination and at what point is it self sabotage? To think I’m immune to suffering or struggling just because it’s happened in the past is ignorant more over negligent. It’s the journey not the destination, right? Well this part of the journey is a bumpy one. And I know there are plenty of other people, and not just single mothers, or single women that are feeling the pressure to balance life, work, interests, finances, family and community. But it is the mothers who feel they need to some how embody the wonder woman phenomenon of ‘having it all.’ And is it truly possible to have it all? If you ‘have it all’ is that it; eternal happiness? I can graciously admit that like Prince’s mother in ‘Doves Cry”, I’m never satisfied. I’m always looking for the next best thing. The thing that is going to catapult me into success and a life in which I love and live freely. I’m never lacking motivation or inspiration. The mundane bores me and I have caviar taste on a spaghetti budget.

All this time, trying to have it all, it dawned on me that not only was I trying to have it all, and some and but right, right now, like yesterday. By no means was I trying to disrespect the process and hinder any growth. But in this world of stimuli overload, social media, and materialism the big picture can get murky. Distractions and the ghost of instant gratification lurk at every corner. So then how does one exercise the delayed gratification muscle? How does one quiet the noise of temptation, distractions, and set backs? After all, “The act of delaying gratification helps to strengthen your mind and shape your character, it builds your will power, promotes higher levels of self discipline, and teaches you the value of patience,” as explained by an article I read on Entreprenuer.com. How Sway?!? How does one keep on course but still have time to smell the roses, spend time with family, and develop the temple that is mind and body.

Luckily a good friend let me in on a success training module he bought into. It features all the advise, anecdotes, and philosophies of the late, great Jim Rohn. Mentor and guru to many but most notably the mentor and sponsor of one of the greatest life coaches of our time, Tony Robins. All the while, before listening to the modules, I was under the impression I was just this raging lunatic, with overly ambitious dreams, and no real course of action. I’m busting my hump over here to fashion the best life for me, my son, family and friends. Let’s face it, success and millions of dollars are no fun or reward if you can’t share it with the one’s you love the most. Doesn’t my son deserve awesome birthday parties, swim classes, play dates, and the latest baby innovations. Don’t I deserve to live beyond paycheck to paycheck, develop my skills and talents, and make my dreams of owning my destiny (as well as a plethora of vacation & investment homes) a reality? As listened to Jim’s words of wisdom and affirmations my path cleared up. My vision of a bigger, brighter, bolder future didn’t seem so hard fetched. He strikes a balance of labor, education, service, and connection. All the things I once thought before was light years away became just an arms length away.

When life’s woes make me doubt myself or my progress and setbacks, I make sure to turn to my old faithfuls, my personal development tools. My audiobooks, my philosophy snippets, the church and my faith in the universe. That quick plug-in and a deep breath always seems to get the rails back on track. It’s easy to feel you have fallen of course or you’ve been short handed or are biting off more than you can chew but the bigger picture must always be in the foresight. Without the pain there couldn’t possibly be any gain. Without the curiosity there couldn’t be the question or the answer. Just when I thought I was taking on too much another grand dream came to me. Not because I was looking but because success leaves clues. My circle presented the opportunity to me. As I stood in the subway a poster stood in front of me for a show that easily could have been an IG post straight out of the day in the life of yours truly. I couldn’t believe it! One look at the poster and a fire ignited in me and I hit send on the low level rant I typed feverishly. The creators of the show ripped my life right out of my journal pages. Well, not literally but could it have easily been my narrative. The response was a resounding battle cry and encouragement in the ‘write’ direction from my close circle of sister-friends. A realization of a dream that has been a long time in the making. I jotted the idea quickly and led the search of resources. Many times we think a goal or project is out of our reach. We let our reservations or our “should be’s” get in the way in what could be. What if you just put that pen to paper? What if you just make the call? What if you just took the game changing course? Small steps in the direction of your dreams are definitely better than none. Mindset is the key. You need to plug in to the resources and tools that can change your mindset. Hang up the inspiring quotes, write in that journal, soak in the hot bath. Do what ever is going to turn you on and plug you in to your potential. READ, RESEARCH, DEVELOP! Treat yourself like Jobs treated Apple. Unapologetic-ally move towards serving and evolving.

You see, Jim Rohn’s  steps to success and leadership, as well as other books, and spiritual guides helped my realize, even with the odds stacked against me, that the “have it all” fantasy is much more than a fantasy but a real living and breathing entity. A life form that needs nourishment, encouragement, development, and most of all hard work. I’m never too busy to realize my dreams. I can never be too ambitious. But I also must respect the process and the seasons. I must respect the peaks and the valleys. I must continue to know, account for, and increase my self worth. As women, it’s easy to get lost in the notion that we are over compensating or need to apologize for going after our dreams. As if going for what we rightfully deserve is somehow neglecting the home or family we support. In fact it’s quite the contrary. Women should embrace the hustle and bustle that comes with the season or reason for following their dreams. That determination and blind focus is temporary and we will reap a lifetime of reward for the very family and commitments that drives the dreams in the first place. In essence your children, your home, your family, your community are the exact reasons “why” you are hitting the ground running at whatever cost. So the short answer, is yes, we can have it all. No it’s not a gimmick. No it’s not just a pipe dream. No it’s not only reserved for our male counterparts. It is legitimately within reach if we give it the same nourishment and determination we give in our tenures as mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and care takers. The idea of having it all no longer feels like the intimidating shadow in the room. Having it all is now a beacon of hope and a slogan of change for my destiny.

Know thy self; Love thy self

Just before my trip to the isles of Greece, as my younger brother and I sat on my oversized urban patio for a brew and a chat we decided we’d delve into the mystery that is our ancestry. The intrigue to trace our roots was planted as I described my need to “find myself again” on big 3-0 girl’s trip. It also didn’t hurt that AncestryDNA was offering 30% of their swab test kit. We’re sticklers for a deal. Something about spitting into a tube at $100 a pop didn’t appeal to our cheapskate souls.

Days go by and the anticipation builds. The day prior to my flight the kit arrives. The process, needless to say, is an interesting one. It’s as simple and as unobtrusive as I’m sure a DNA test could be. I’ve taken one for my son. Not only was it obtrusive, it was makeshift, and rather inconvenient. At first encounter with said opened kit (AncestryDNA kit that is, I know I go off on tangents, bear with me) you are instructed to register or activate your case. Once that’s said and done there is a tube with the case number labeled to the outside as well as your name and a blue capsule suspended at the closure of the tube. You are cautioned not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes prior to saliva launch. As an extra precaution, given my braces can be quite the food trap, I brush my teeth and rinse well. Almost careful to be extra rigorous when brushing my teeth and tongue so that I have as much DNA (blood & tissue…gross) exposed for extraction when I hock up my precious loogie. Thirty minutes has passed and so I spit into the tube, just enough to reach the indicated line of no take-backsies. The next step is to fasten the top of the test tube tightly so that the encapsulated blue binder is pierced and flows into the liquid DNA gold that is my spit. So as instructed I do so and watch the aqua tinged liquid trickle into the saliva, my saliva. Lastly, I shake the tube vigorously, place it in the bio-hazard pouch provided, and lie it down carefully into the post-marked box like a newborn to a manger. I then sent it off like a letter to my star crossed lover across the seas and wait. During that time I packed, played, and flew to a distant land, returned, entered reality’s orbit and almost forgot about the whole test tube of wonder. So much so, I somehow missed the email indicating my results arrival. To my surprise, like a shining golden ticket, the email poked its subject line between all the retail-spam and promised the results I had been longing for my entire culturally cognizant life. The sub-layer to who I am was at my fingertips.

As I click the link leading to 1000’s of years of ancestry the anticipation builds. The sensation could only be described as the same intensity and butterflies that’s felt whilst waiting for final grades at the fin of a mediocre semester abroad. Dean’s list or probation? Oh the thrill. This was my graduation, my emancipation, and rebirth all in one multicolored pie chart. The results stare me square in the face. The mash up of colors swirling into a story much like a bad Alice in Wonderland trip. A story that at first glance strikes you as rational. You start to see how your features came about and your affinity for certain sounds and tastes. You also are like “oh damn that’s why I sunburn” and have ginger-esque attributes. But then you also realize the numbers don’t lie. “Twenty six percent African.” Mostly made up of those Diasporas inhabiting Mali, Congo, Senegal & South Eastern Africa. “Sixty one percent European.” Hailing partially from Italy/Greece (22%), Spain (or Iberia – 19%). Last but not least “10 percent” of my ancestors hailed from Ireland.
There’s a small percentage of Eastern European and Caucasian (Syria, Iran, Iraq — yes you guessed it, Caucasian is a misnomer and really has nothing to do with white people). Then I come in at 3% Asian and 9% Native American. Does that equal 100? I think I’m off by one. That’s not the point. The point is, my discovery opened a flood gates of emotions and opinions. The results in itself wasn’t surprising. Actually, the contrary occurred. My suspicions or hypothesis of my ancestry were spot on. I knew vaguely the story of my ancestors and the plights of those involved in the diaspora. I understood the ravishing and ‘cleansing’ the explorers unleashed on the indigenous ‘savages’ of the islands. So why was I, on some level, disappointed? The numbers didn’t lie and I am somewhat privy to American and World history. So what was it about the European percentage that rubbed me the wrong way? Gasp! I AM, in essence, A DESCENDANT (directly or indirectly) OF THE DUMBEST AND SLIMIEST EXPLORER OF OUR TIME: Christopher Columbus!

All this I’m brown/black and I’m proud I felt at the top of the finding seemed to be drowned out by the fact my ancestors raped, pillaged, and wiped out a whole population of indigenous people. I was in bed with the enemy! Christopher Columbus, of the Genoa region in Italy, was commissioned by the country of Spain to find a more direct route to Asia. Christopher being the slime bucket that he was, said oh sure in exchange for a title and some cash I’ll find you some dope shit. He not knowing his ass from his elbow, or so that’s how they present it, embarked on a journey East to ‘stumble upon’ the west indies. The voyage beyond the horizon would lead to new lands, comodities, slaves and most importantly gold. I guess three out of four wasn’t bad. There was no gold. Instead what he found were the golden people of the ‘West Indies’ willing to share their resources, insights, and homes. In return they received genocide, small pox, rape, and enslavement. Oh not to mention the whole extinction of a race of indigenous people in less than 10 years (and that’s being generous as this is not a cited history lesson but a synopsis). Thanks Chris!

With all that said, whatever glimmer of ‘entitlement to my land’ I had was now crushed by the fact I could easily be ‘Christina Columbus’. What a blow!?! I essentially had no right nor do most descendants of those on the island of Puerto Rico. But what I can do is educate myself and my son of the facts, the history, the atrocities and albeit it doesn’t seem relevant these days, the progress made. The results in no shape or form will pull me away from the love and bond I have for my brown and black people nor will it bring shame to the relationships I have with white or beige people. I can stand for human rights and urge those looking so narrowly at society’s differences to examine their own inner makings. I urge all of us to make the discovery into ourselves. Whether that be your values, morals, behaviors, ancestry, countries of origin, be willing and able to receive that mission seriously and wholeheartedly. It will mimic a homecoming. The truth will tie you closer to your neighbor, your mother, your weird co-worker, and your great-great-great-aunt who loved to shimmy.

The move toward examining your roots could be one step closer to binding you to your theories or breaking the chains of them. The more strides we take to getting to know ourselves on a deeper level is really a stride closer to getting to know where we are and where we want to be. The bonus to discovering yourself is discovering others in a whole new light. Maybe a look at your roots will inspire you to let the walls down of your micro bubble, seek roots elsewhere or just meet new people. Where ever the journey to self discovery takes you don’t make the mistake of finding a new box to check off or stifle yourself. You are unique and much more than your DNA or at least I hope so, I’m working on that answer, hint-hint. You have the power to change your destiny. Let the search for your ancestry be a stepping stone to an evolution or rediscovery of the person already inside you. It most certainly has done so for me.

UPDATES…Extra Extra…Read all about it!

So I know I’ve been off the radar but that’s partly due to technological difficulties and human error but the content is on it’s way. I went the ancient route and wrote down a few anecdotes, philosophies, and updates down in my trusty marble notebooks.
Bare with me while I format it all and get my blog digits working again! xoxo
p.s. I’m busy af and need help focusing on it all so leave some comments and suggestions or even a whisper that you care…ciudate.
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Covered in it

The Run Around

Once I get a hold of something I tend to run with it. Ideas, words, projects, tasks, love and lust are amongst the few. My focus becomes my obsession and what I want I get. What I get I keep. Or some variation of the latter. People or men for that matter are no exception. Fantasy becomes reality; reality becomes distorted. They crash. I burn. Set up so high for failure they never see it coming. With expectations so high and standards so low how can anyone expect to win? Like telling a three headed goldfish to win best in show at the dog pageantry, I’ve got delusions of grandeur. We can all sit here and blame my father for his inconsistencies or my mothers man bashing but we all know who the culprit is. So where do we go from here? “Summertime sadness” plays in the background. I’ve started my In-My-Feelings playlist and let Lana & Sade serenade me until I fall asleep overthinking and over-analyzing every text or break in contact. Not just his but all of them. The contortion of my thoughts, tastes, waist and fate to fit or sway the odds in my favor aren’t always apparent. But the time and energy spent wondering if I’m enough and whether or not they’re completely fucked can be exhausting and debilitating. As I’ve gotten older the contortion or act of watering down my truest state has grown less intense. Now my relationships, or the emergence of them, take form in some sort of term project. Research and unravel as much truth, success, misery and evolution history has caused. All in all, this case work begins as I am earnestly trying to get to the core of why people react or act the way they do. I do so all while letting on as little as possible about my own short comings. Too cool baby. The girl of your dreams. But what got me there? Ask any ex of mine, who I am. They may stare blankly or speak to an attribute or two. But to say they know me is to say they knew of me. One in particular, we’ll call him Evan, mentioned a couple years after our split, that he loved me but likely more of who I was to him and not at all because of who he knew me to be. Not in those words exactly but he expressed the oddity of loving me so deeply and yet feeling he knew absolutely nothing about me or how I was feeling. At least not until it was too late and I was black out wasted fighting him or crying as I stormed out of a cab. Those were pretty far and in between and got a bit more intense toward the end of our torrid love affair. But by then I had so many emotions and secrets bottled up I could open an artisanal shop in Bushwick and peddle them for $37.50 a pop. The next relationship, if we want to brand it as such, was a complete and utter fuckfest. It was the first hit of the crackpipe I call “long distance relationships”. All the feel good flutters and longing of high school age love without the monotony or overbearingness of a hometown relationship (is that a thing?). It feels exotic knowing how the other half lives, and by other half I mean non-NYers, and each visit is like a vacation. Did I mention I love flying? Oh, and guess what on the other side is some grade A “I missed your body” loving and the pony show of being showed around town. There’s nothing I love more than showing out. But that euphoria lasts only so long before the suspicion, loneliness, girlfriends, and possibly wives creep in. Then it gets weird, desperate, and dies. In that order. Now we’re back to square one. Swearing off the dick, self medicating, and Sunday mass tend to help. Then summertime hits and all the beautiful boys and girls start the hunt all over again. Two more failed attempts and a baby later here we are. No, no, don’t get me wrong time this is different. I’ve matured, my tastes have matured, I know myself a lot better than the last go around or three. And I’m more willing to share a part of who I am and who I’m becoming. Sometimes. A sister’s gotta keep some mystery. Hmm, but is it really different this time? Let’s take inventory shall we: Lives far enough away to not see everyday but close enough to see often or spontaneously, check. Mommy and or some Daddy issues, check (but who doesn’t? Am I right?) At least five years my senior, check. Nerdy, but down enough to dig dope music and go on the occasional binger, check. Commitment issues, check. Bonus round: doesn’t answer when I call, check. Okay, well that does it, thank you for joining this edition of “Self Sabotage”. Good night! Then again who is to say this is all true. I can easily be projecting these ‘attributes’ and short comings on to this unassuming bachelor. Or I could just hate being happy so much I put myself in a whirlwind of heartbreak to really stick it to myself? OR….I can be so broken by loves dead past that I seek out fairytale like romances and lofty expectations of said suitors that I just set us up to fail? Ding, ding, ding! We have a a winner. And this may go for the both of us honestly. He can easily think I’m the bee’s knees, saw destiny in the day we met, and is trying to hold on to something hundred of miles away hoping it will take form into the love of his dreams or at least a steady, sturdy relationship. But maybe, just maybe he’s completely sane and sound. Maybe he has no expectations. Maybe he enjoys just enjoying each other’s company, random texts, and playlist pairings. The fact that I’ve already labeled him a screw up and myself a screw up just a few weeks after meeting each other and two dates later is ridiculous. Believe me, as I write this I’m literally smh. If only I was kinder to myself, and to the projection of him (merely because I have not said a word to him about above mentioned insecurities) just shows how much I need to work on in the love department. That’s why I write, truly. To understand myself, my principles, my inner workings and in turn the world, people, and relationships around me. He may read this; he may not. He may care; he may not. He may be in to me; he may not. That’s all really for him to decide and for me to let go & let god. Amen. Phew! I’m glad I was able to hash this out with myself and the two people that read this blog. I’m also so glad you weren’t there to answer my call. 💋