Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Courage to Love ( Again)

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.” ~ Maya Angelou

With each hurt and disappointment, I trust a little less. Yet, I know a closed hand does not lose anything nor does it gain anything. Yeah, there are moments that I know if there is nothing risked, there is nothing gained. But truthfully, I am a coward who is praying for a chance to see the wizard to get courage and a new heart.

On the way to see the wizard, I hope to encounter others who are willing to follow the yellow brick road. We leave behind everything familiar to us in a quest to fulfill our deepest desires. On our journey and through our friendship, we each discover that the thing we seek is within us.

It is a tale as old as time. Nonetheless, I am wishing for a rewrite: the new ending to include the same reward (courage) without the work (self discovery.) How is that for a fairytale happy ending?

Okay, I know I got to do the work; take the journey. On the path to love, I have even been startled by my own temerity. In those moments, I contemplate giving love another chance.

Then I remember the poem, The Invitation, and it implores me to remember the calling of my heart. Here is the stanza of the poem that is the real truth of my heart.

"It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive."
These words beckon me to live authentically, by taking risks with my heart, following my soul's desire and being deeply intimate with myself and others. The risks are great and so are the rewards.
Playing it safe may give me predictable outcomes and less pain, but it also robs my heart of the chance of expressing fully.

A friend recently told me that “safety is an illusion.” She is right. There really is no protection from pain. It can happen at anytime from anywhere. So I choose to take the risks.

I want to know a romantic love that fills me to the brim. I want to believe that exhilaration, excitement and ecstasy can simultaneously take up space in my chambers again. I want to encounter a level of intimacy that exceeds anything I ever imagined or experience before.

I want to believe in happy endings again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Path to Love

Virtually every personality assessment I have ever done, shows that words are important to me. Recently, I read the book The 5 Love Languages. That book revealed to me that my primary love language is words of affirmations. Simply put: I need words to fill up my love tank.

Conversely, how I am most injured is through words. When someone does not keep their word to me in big matters (fidelity in a relationship) or small matters (being on time), it is unsettling to me. It can make me feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath me because words are my foundation. Words are how I metabolize my life. If I digest words that are unhealthy, I feel unsettled at my core.

When I am unsettled at my core, I do what many humans do when threaten, I see only two options: fight or flight. What I am coming to realize is that there is a third option and this third option will call upon me to gain greater insight into who I am. This third option may enable me to reach a higher level of spirituality.

In the book Conversations with God, it discusses creating higher and a higher version of you, as the way to the path of enlightenment. I need to create a version of me that is comfortable expressing my vulnerability. That is my third option.

I want to create a version of me that is willing to be courageous enough to tell others: Who I am; and what I want. I want a version of me that tells this truth in manner that is not derived from anger (which is a mask for fear); but rather extending from a place of wanting to be clear and truthful. Instead of “How dare you do XYZ to me?!” and “I will punish you by any means necessary.” I want to have the courage to say, “When you did XYZ, it made me feel disrespected and dispensable.” And “At my core, I know you respect me, so help me align these two incongruent experiences with you.”

The former approach makes me feel right and powerful. The latter makes me feel human.

Years of therapy has certainly given me the knowledge about mirroring, empathetic statements and other effective communication tools. Despite this knowledge, my degree in communications and my years working as a spoken work artist, it was not until recently that I had the epiphany that I am not very good at expressing who I am and what I want. I have fallen into a pattern of expressing what I will not allow; and what I am capable of doing if one crosses that line. The two modes of expressions may seem similar from a distance; but upon closer inspection, I can see that one stems from love and the other from fear. I want to create a higher version of me that chooses the path to love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doing the Dash

"Somewhere between the beginning and the end, that's where I am in my journey."
~ Terrence Howard

Are we not all in that same place; in the middle of the journey, somewhere between the beginning and the end? Or at least, don't we all hope that we are in the middle? Perhaps, if in your elder years you may feel that you are closer to the end of the journey. But of course no one knows for certain.

We just know we are somewhere on the dash. The dash is the mark which lies between our birth date and the date of death. Recently, the oldest man in world died at age 113. When he was 70 did he believe, know and behave like he had 43 more years to live?

In a few weeks, I will turn a year older. What I do with my dash matters to me. Whether in the middle of the journey or near the end, I want the words I write and the stories I tell, to honor my ancestors and give hope to children. Words and stories live on long after we are gone. They become the legacy we leave behind. So I ask myself, “What legacy do you want leave?”

My prayer and vision is that it will be said that I told truth: even when it was not popular or convenient. It is my hope that my truth helped heal or inspire someone else. If my willingness to disclose my experiences, both those in the valley and on the mountaintop, enables another to let go past pain or forge ahead with greater courage, then I would consider my life well lived.

My mentor, Baba Jamal Koram, has often posed the question, “For what purpose do you tell the story?” He pushes me to examine my intentions and reflect on the impact the story will have on the receiver. Often I have grapple with how much to disclose; who will be affected; and how relevant what I have to say is to those who will receive it. Truth telling just for truth-telling sake is not acceptable. I have a responsibility to be responsible.

Wisdom does not simply happen by being on the planet for a certain period of time. Maya Angelou said, "Most people don't grow up. Most people age.” With the dawn of a new year on my journey, I pray that I have grown-up just a little bit more. For me, growing up involves getting wiser because of the valley experiences and not in spite of them. As I move further down the dash, my desire is to have the courage to tell the truth and the wisdom to know when to tell it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

To Climb or Fly on the Journey

You can climb out of the valley stumbling and fumbling forward, with bleeding knuckles, scrapped knees and bruised feet, or you can fly. It really is all a choice. The choice is about what risks you are willing to take.

Climbing can certainly be safer. Depending on how long you have been in the valley, your wings may not seem to be in good condition. Your wings may be bent, bruised or even broken. However, the truth of the matter is, many do not even believe they have wings.

Flying out of the valley is literally a leap of faith. You must leap over your greatest fears, without any safety net. You must catapult yourself above the criticism and naysayers both external and internal, without any assurances that you will be successful.

Climb or fly? The choice is easy, right? Hardly. When given the choice many choose the former. Why? A common reason is that it feels like the secure choice. It is the choice many are most familiar. It is the choice most others will support. It is the choice many have been conditioned to accept by family and community.

On my journey, in some areas I made the choice to fly. Leaving a corporate job to become a professional storyteller would certainly be one of those flying moments. It was not a hard choice, despite being recently divorced, a mother of a toddler and a new homeowner. Everything unfolded in a Divine manner. Since taking flight, I have had no regrets. Certainly, I have had obstacles, disappointments and setback; however, I never looked backed or mourned the yesterdays.

In other areas, I have been far more fearful and cautious. In manners of the heart, I have wallowed in past hurts and disappointments. Much of my time has been spent examining where I have been; instead of where I am going. I cannot count the hours I have spent lamenting about who did what to whom; instead of celebrating the opportunity to now attract what I really wanted.

In a poem I wrote entitled, Sangin’ the Blues, I challenged myself to look at a broken heart from a new perspective. You can check out the poem below. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions on how I can sprout some wings, let me know.

Sangin’ the Blues

When the heart breaks,

It spits wide open.

Then all your dreams

All the things

You’ve been hopin’

Are now possible

And the possibilities

Are limitless.

So the next time

You are broken hearted

Put it to the test.

Look at it

As an opportunity

To do things differently.

Make room

For greater things.

Just see

What Spirit brings.

I affirm

You will find

A higher consciousness

That will bring you



And Bliss.

What do you have to lose

If I am wrong,

You can go on back to

Sangin’ the Blues.