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An Honest Elaboration

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com August 6, 2017 0 comments

Your under the breath comments directed toward me sting a little.

I can’t pretend that my skin is thick when it’s thin.

You chip away at the woman I’ve built over the past twenty years; a woman I’m proud to be.

The woman you loved more than you ever thought possible.

You discredit my words and tear down my confidence like it’s made of paper.

Even still, I hope you remember the good that existed in tiny pockets.

I want you to know it’s going to get harder for you as the days pass and my knowledge grows.

You see, I’ve given myself to only a few human beings in this world. I can count on one hand just how many have sat across from me or have held my head on their shoulder as I ramble on. My musings on life and love dance off your lips as we shared breath or a kiss. I’m wide open on paper but it’s something else for me to share pieces of myself and my heart when I’m sharing physical space with you. My hands grow tense and my eyes search for the nearest exit. I haven’t suffered much heartbreak aside from that which comes with failure after years of trying to keep it all together.

I’m afraid to walk into this world alone and vulnerable in this way. I’m naive in my belief that there is this kindness and honesty in every person I meet.

I hope that somewhere deep down, they’re a little like me and wading in empathy.

It takes something special. Something I see in your eyes and in the way you look into mine that is hard to find. A calm and ease – a kind way of being. I have to feel safe and warm – my body and mind held by yours and softness. The softness that allows my words to soak through your skin and into your bones.

Photo by Greer Inez

My flaws exist and muddle my thoughts with wondering why I’m not good enough for the world as I am. I self doubt more than anyone could ever know and I have days that only exist for me to question my existence and everything I believe in. I’m afraid that no one will ever see through it all and find the person I am. I wait for arms around my waist and whispers of adoration in my ear as we do the most mundane things.

Living with this feeling of something bigger is coming; a twin flame

It’s all so fucking heavy all the time.

When a chapter closes; new or old, it’s hard for me to walk away and leave it all behind. The pieces of me that I’ve given; the pieces that can’t be taken back.

I want you to know that my weakness is this;

My weakness is the worry – the worry that you never meant what you said and that the words I laid at your feet were stepped on. It was hard for me to open up to you. Each and every one of you. But no matter, I will still be who I am and I’ll still remember the honest exchange we had.

If you don’t like what you see, change the channel babe.

Tow the line and let everything we had fade to black as time goes by.

But I ask you to hold your tongue if your words are full of spite. Hush your voice if it’s tinged with hate.

Disconnect from the past and move forward in a true and honest way.

I’m Free babe and just who I need to be for me.

Personal

The Peak Is A Lie, There is Only The Climb

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com June 27, 2017 1 Comment

Strokes on the keyboard and racing thoughts.

The sound of the cord to my headphones rubbing against the wooden table as I bounce my head around to the beat of the music.

The ideas I have float in my head until I sit down at my desk. This means when it’s flowing, it goes. I have to run to keep up and if the opportunity gets away from me, it could be weeks until my next opening. The feelings attached to being a writer and wanting your work read so badly, are like this endless stream of let downs and sadness. I’m swimming against the current and i’m taking on water. More and more water as I go.

I always thought that life was about reaching this peak of happiness. We climb our way up with hope in our hearts and stars in our eyes. The path is difficult and the weather shifts with each season. You scrape your knees and break your nails. Your legs shake and your hands go numb – this journey is awakening and shapes you into the person you are going to be for the rest of your life.

Hugo Barros

You will continue to evolve with knowledge and experience, but this foundation remains unshaken.

Someone sent me this monologue from The Valley of the Dolls and it resonated with me in such a way that my thoughts immediately became more clear and direct. Sometimes that is all it takes to set your hands on fire. The inspiration to say what you feel and share what you think about it all.

About life and love and sex and hate.

You’ve got to climb to the top of Mount Everest
to reach the Valley of the Dolls.

It’s a brutal climb to reach that peak,
which so few have seen.

You never knew what was really up there,
but the last thing you expect to find
was the Valley of the Dolls.

You stand there, waiting for
the rush of exhilaration
you thought you’d feel- but
it doesn’t come.

You’re too far away to hear the applause
and take your bows.

And there’s no place left to climb.
You’re alone, and the feeling of loneliness is overpowering.

The air is so thin you can scarcely breathe.
You’ve made it-and the world says
you’re a hero.

But it was more fun at the bottom
when you started, with nothing more than hope and
the dream of fulfillment.

All you saw was the top of that mountain-
there was no one to tell you
about the Valley of the Dolls.

But it’s different when you reach the summit.
The elements have left you battered,
deafened, sightless-and too weary
to enjoy your victory.

– Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann

You see, I have learned there is no peak. There’s only a plateau when you get weak and need to breathe.

Bolin Zhang

There’s this space you can find yourself if you stop the climb and no one really knows where that goes. I suspect that’s what happens when you can no longer see the peak of the mountain. The clouds roll in and the thought of going into the unknown is too daunting a task.

You curl up and stay – waiting for the sky to clear.

I’ve never been one of those people.

I’ll never stop chasing the sun.

I’ll never stop climbing.

Personal

Portrait of a Grandfather

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com June 12, 2017 0 comments

Winding roads through thick patches of bright green forest, the hills make my stomach go into my throat and we talk about everything. I’m just six or seven years old and I remember feeling like when he spoke to me, everything he said was true. So deeply true.

He offered this sense of no matter what babe, everything is going to be alright.

He gave me lessons in the art of the turtle rescue. Even when I was unsure – he’d be sitting in the car telling me I’ve got it. We would come home with at least fifteen turtles in the summertime as we made our way through Ohio. He taught me to follow my own lead and to never stop believing in me and my capability.

Belief is something I have always had a hard time with. It started when I was in elementary school and continued through middle and high school. No matter how many people believed in me and my ability to do something spectacular with my writing or interest in science, it made no difference- if I was feeling down on myself.

As I have matured and reluctantly stepped into my thirties, I have come face to face with what it means to believe in something. Whether it is human rights, animal rights, honesty, justice, environmental protection… The belief I hold directly impacts the way I interact with my community and environment. While a singular belief was not the topic of our many long and deep discussions, the idea that believing in something with every ounce of yourself was important – often was.

This seed was planted by a man that was by my side from the day he held my tiny body in his arms. Strong, not much taller than me but his energy and presence made up for his height.

Big round belly, a sweeping duck tail at the base of his neck, and a shiny bald spot at the back of his head. I can picture him moving through the crowd at the Sunday flea market.

If you missed his faded blue jeans, you’d know it was him with one glance at his back pocket and that orange bristle brush handle. This place is where it started, this memory of my first lesson in believing in myself. A very simple task but when he performed it, it would stop anyone in their tracks. The art of negotiation was a delicate one that required belief in the item you were haggling over and how well you could caress the seller’s ego. Watching him create a relationship with a stranger in the span of two or three minutes was something to behold. I imagined him in a black suit with a white button up underneath. His finger pointed in the face of a car salesman that had scammed an old woman and his argument was so incredible, everyone in the court room stood on their feet.

     These lessons were not limited to yard sale negotiation – he reminded me throughout the years, just how capable I was of achieving whatever goals I set for myself.

As I transitioned into motherhood at just sixteen, he remained an active participant in supporting my life goals and ambition. Whether it was driving me to school while giving me a pep talk, or long conversations reminding me how lucky I was to be a mother to my boys. One day sticks out in my mind as it was one of my last memories of him. I remember the sound of his feet meeting the wooden floor, the smell of Aqua Net and cologne filling my nostrils, and the obscenities he mumbled as he walked past me.

This day plays on repeat in my mind – still. He was angry with me for the way I was behaving, the constant complaining about being stuck with my kids all day long while the world continued without me. He was the first person I would reach out to when things were hard, he had heard it all and always listened without judgement. Patting my back as he held me in his arms – making me feel like I was powerful and strong.

Knowing that I wasn’t alone gave me enough hope and belief in myself to last until the next time I would break down.

Here I am now, a mother to four children and 2,800 miles away from my family and the home that holds each one of these vivid memories. Gone to California, once a dream bigger than me… Now a reality. I just wish he could see how far he got me – just by believing in me. My grandfather is buried under a large Oak tree. Each time I go home; I sit with him and I tell him just how much I have done, because I believed.

 

Personal

White Privilege

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com February 4, 2017 2 Comments

I am white. I am privileged.

My family is from the belly of Ohio and I can’t begin to tell you the things I heard growing up about black people and Muslim people.

It ranged from “you’ll get canker sores if you kiss a black boy” to endless heated rants about muslims taking over Dearborn. Even after growing up hearing all of the negative assumptions, racist statements, black jokes, and being warned of being disowned if I ever dated outside of my race, I couldn’t help but be completely enamored with everything my family advised against. I stepped into communities I had always heard were horrific and dangerous. I walked up broken steps to an illegal living space where a girl I had met was raising her baby. I clearly remember seeing through the floor while using the bathroom, all the way down into the kitchen.

I would meet and marry my ex after just eight months of knowing him – six months pregnant with his baby and joined by the grandfather that once told me not to kiss black boys. He adored Brito and my husband changed the minds of white people that had been fed racist bullshit their entire lives. He did it by being himself. It wasn’t his duty to educate the ignorant whites, but he shook everything up with his kind heart and big smile.

 

I never really realized how privileged I was as a white woman. I never thought about it or really noticed the small things that now shine like a spotlight right in my face.

I remember my husband calling me from the side of the road one morning at 6:00 am. He was on his way to his job he’d had for six years and had been pulled over for the fourth time that month. He wanted to talk to me while he waited for the officer to come back with his license.

The officer upon returning to the car exclaimed – “I can’t believe it, you have no record!” Brito laughed and joked with the officer, seemingly unfazed. I remember laughing with him about it while he shrugged it off. He made excuses and would say “what do you expect? I’m a black man, wearing a baseball hat in an old car” – He expected it.

He knew it was coming because he spent his entire life dealing with it.

With his calm and collected demeanor, I was ok with it too.

After our sons were born I would experience hatred and ignorance first hand. Parking lot encounters with white men pointing their fingers at my boys and pulling an imaginary trigger. I remember the first time the N word was thrust at my husband while we walked our sons down the street in our neighborhood. But mostly I remember being openly overlooked as we searched for a place to live in predominantly white neighborhoods. There was never an explanation but my husband took it hard.

My sons have grown so much since their father and I parted ways, but I see in them – him. I see the kind heartedness and the passive laugh. Even when my youngest son was being called a monkey by his classmates, he laughed it off and made excuses for the boy that said these words.

My sons are black and let me tell you, this has me in this space between owning my privilege and trying to take all of this racist bullshit and owning it – so they don’t have to.

I am often asked whose kids they are or if they are hispanic. I am asked where their father is, and I’ve read hateful posts saying I don’t post photos of them because they aren’t as cute as my white daughters.

My sons were once accused by a neighbor – of stealing out of his garage.

Why? When there were so many other people in the area that could’ve done this.

I feel powerless and completely unprepared for raising black men. With their father unable to be in their lives – I am tasked with teaching them things that I will never understand.

 

Raise your hands up if you’re ever pulled over, so you don’t get shot.

Always walk with a friend.

Never wear a hoodie after dark.

Don’t raise your voice in a public area.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.

Privilege doesn’t mean that you get things handed to you because you’re white.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have bad days or that you aren’t struggling.
White privilege doesn’t mean you don’t work hard.

White privilege means, you were born into your skin and because of that skin,

You are less likely to go to prison.

As a white person, the likelihood that I will go to prison is about 4-11%.

For a person of color the likelihood is 88%.

Think about that.

When I shop in a store, I am less likely to be followed. Because I am white.

This is a societal disease that continues to hang over people of color all over the world and no matter how nice, equal, polite, informed you are… You can’t say that as a white person you aren’t privileged.

It’s simple. You are.

One of the most eye opening pieces on this subject that I have had the privilege (see what I did there?) of reading is Peggy Vincent’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack – I’ve included an excerpt below.

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

Instead of using your energy explaining how not privileged you are, use it to educate yourself and become more aware of your words and actions and how they affect those around you.

If you’d like a head start…

Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person

10 Examples That Prove White Privilege Protects White People in Every Aspect Imaginable

On Racism and White Privilege | Teaching Tolerance

What is White Privilege 

Here’s a few books!

Privilege, Power, and Difference

The New Jim Crow

Top two photos by Topher Delancey of Topher Delancey Photo

Portraits of the boys by Amy of Aimlee Photography 

 

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