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Conflict of Passion in Success

16 Feb
dreams and wishes. 62/365

dreams and wishes. 62/365 (Photo credit: nicole.pierce.photography ♥)

“Success comes from following your passion”.

I often battle with this notion because I have been raised by generations of people who valued the privilege to work, not necessarily loving what it is that they do, most of the time steering clear of innovative methods of making an income. There are of course a few exceptions, but with the majority, the question I tend to get is “do you have a job yet?” Never once inquiring about my passion or even what my strengths are. Because of that, I find that a lot of my family can be surprised at what I have the audacity to dream of making money from.

They appear to view cultural icons (i.e. Toni Morrison, Soledad O’Brien, Kadir Nelson and yes even Kanye) as the exception more so than the rule, as is any other person who decided to take a risk and follow their heart in pursuit of finding happiness in a career as opposed to a benefits package and salary. The irony is that most of these people are handsomely rewarded in their pursuits and when asked, often admit to never truly feeling like they have “worked
 a day in their life.

After admitting to myself that I have not ever been employed doing what I love, I had to also ask myself why that was. A part was the pressure of feeling like I had to make money over pursuing fulfillment. But a bigger part was that while some of my counterparts were being asked by their families about their dreams, desires-what they would do with their life if money was no issue, I wasn’t. Although I demonstrated tremendous talent in the arts, rarely was I encouraged to pursue that as a possible career. I even remember clearly, someone telling me that those who major in arts, were meant to starve, so that wasn’t a smart path for me to choose. Although I now beg to differ, I was impressionable at a young age and looking for guidance as much as I was looking to please. That is how I ended up here.

For years, I struggled with those expectations of who I should be, as opposed to who I am. But acknowledgement as to why, has helped me to not hold a grudge. I come from a lineage of maintenance workers, factory workers, butchers, soldiers, admin staff, with the only professionals being teachers. Many of my family members operated out of need and who can dream when you’re fixated on making sure your family is fed? Better yet, who can dream when a system seems to tell you that you can’t? It took me a long time to even allow myself to think outside of the box, but I am committed to doing so because I believe I deserve and have the ability to do so. Moreover, I think I owe it to generations past and present to at the very least, try.

Whitney Houston (Facing My Reality)

13 Feb
The Greatest Love of All

Image via Wikipedia

Whitney Houston’s passing isn’t surreal for me. It’s very real. Bringing into question my mortality and quality of life, reminding me that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

It puts into perspective that which makes my heart sing; forcing me to acknowledge that if I had it my way, I would spend these moments with the love of my life, living close to the beach so walks along the shore would be a few short steps away. I’d want to fully indulge in the blessings of life, taking short breaks to write (because I adore doing so) and to share laughs with family and friends. I’d want to do so free from the anxiety and stress placed upon me by a chaotic world, that dictates my daily path by superficial faded pieces of paper with dead presidents’ faces imprinted on them.

Ms. Houston’s passing arouses the fear that I am anywhere but in this utopia of my dreams, and makes me question why not, as well as the possibility of such a world.

We all throw around phrases and mantras about tomorrow not being promised and the importance of living for today but I know I am not alone in being bound by the fear of truly doing so. That in some way by living each day as if it was our last, is acknowledging the possibility that it very well could be. We procrastinate because we hope and long for tomorrow and the years to come, and if we are truly honest with ourselves we aren’t living out our maximum potential because perhaps we are afraid to accept that at some point we will all breathe that last breath and continue to whatever destiny our beliefs have in store for us.
I do believe that Whitney Houston is resting in peace now, but I can’t help but wonder, if she had it her way, would she have rather her existence here on earth, to be as peaceful-overflowing with love, encouragement, joy, and the expression of her dreams as it has seemed to be in these subsequent days of her death; If perhaps she would have made different choices throughout her life had she known how brief it would turn out to be. I too have childhood memories of wishing I had a red and black tutu like Whitney Houston’s so I could belt out “I wanna dance with somebody who loves me”, but the mature adult in me is reminded of the reality that tomorrow really is not promised and if that is in fact the case (which proved to be true for our fallen icon), what am I doing about that truth today?

Quarters

10 Feb

The new year always brings about reflection. 2012 is no different. I can say that as usual, 2011 was a rollercoaster, a lot of which I didn’t feel prepared for, although I rarely found myself in a place that I had never been…

…First quarter was casual, fun, and exploratory to say the least. It left me hyped but at the same time a bit bruised, but I can’t say that I didn’t ask for it. The key takeaway, if it looks, walks, and talks like a duck-it’s a duck…

…Second quarter was damage control. I don’t like loose ends, especially those that leave me disturbed. I tried to tie them. Opposition ensued. Let’s say that I learned a lot about my family. I had to accept the possibility that the ideal relationship that I may have wanted with some of them, may never be. Doing this allowed me to accept them even if I didn’t like it, and to keep myself from becoming bitter…

…Third quarter was filled with elements of surprise of the positive and negative variety, but in all it left me questioning friendships, and accepting that in all of the preparation that life can provide, it cannot ever effectively prepare you for loss; literal and figurative loss. I was equally unprepared for the mourning that ensued….

…Fourth quarter was one of tremendous growth as I found myself feeling alone in the midst of many struggles. I let my critical inner voice take hold and began to question most of the decisions I had made within the year. Where the hell were all of my friends anyway? I found myself in the emergency room very much alive but feeling the need to be emotionally resuscitated. Highlight: I’m going to be an aunt!

2011 was a year of tremendous proportions. Growth. Loss. Facing fear. Exposing vulnerability. Lots of tears. Speaking up where silence once stood. Introspection in isolation. Numerous times feeling stripped of that which I valued, what kept me balanced. The sources from which I would draw for joy were compromised and in all that I prevailed. So in retrospect, 2011 was a good year because all contributed to me becoming a better version of myself. Would I have preferred to alter parts of it? Sure. But isn’t four quarters what makes a whole?

A Pretzel Story

2 Feb
Typical brands of Potato Chips at a superstore.

Image via Wikipedia

So I’m sitting here, typing and munching on organic pretzel sticks. Not because I wouldn’t rather be enjoying a slice of pizza, but because my body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be, say when I was like 17. Sure potato chips would probably even taste better, but years ago after gaining a considerable amount of weight, I took the responsibility of educating myself on what I was putting into my body.

I approach diet as I would philosophy or any other course for that matter. I have intellectualized it. And although I do still indulge in foods that I like and do still get much pleasure from eating, I realize that what most American’s are probably missing is the educational part of diet. If you just listen in on a conversation about food and you hear someone rationalizing the low-fat cookies they bought so they could eat more or even the 100% fruit juice that they can’t live without because it’s healthy, you’d realize that people are misguided and misinformed about the food they eat.

Primarily I don’t think it’s the what, it’s the how much. However, they are related because if you eat the wrong things, you’ll be hungrier faster and subsequently need more. Now I’m not going to go into my tirade of diet and nutrition (yet) but here’s my advice. Make wise choices with food. Yes, you can still enjoy it, but read the labels and school yourself on what they mean. If a serving is 10 chips and you eat the whole bag, you ate more than a serving. Doesn’t seem like a big deal until you add up all the extra servings of everything you consumed all day. It only takes 3500 calories to make a pound! And only a few extra pounds before a new dimple or roll appears and your clothes don’t fit!

Confidence Saves

20 Jan
English: Algenist in Sephora window

Image via Wikipedia

It pays to have confidence. Or better yet, it saves!

As an avid patron of the beauty industry there are certain things I swear by when it comes to beauty products like Vaseline and Cocoa Butter Stick, but on one particular day I was paying a visit to Sephora in order to replace my a must have in my beauty arsenal. As usual the beauty consultant asked me if I was looking for anything specific or had any questions and I actually did. However it was more of a technical question about ingredients more than anything else. After about 30 minutes I left the store with a suggested regimen to address a ton of skin concerns that I didn’t even have upon entering the store. This list of suggested products was about double, if not triple the price of what I use now. I mean the woman even created issues that didn’t exist. I so badly wanted to ask her how old she thought I was only as a means to demonstrate that whatever I was using was apparently working because she like so many others, mistook me for younger than I actually am.

What I realized is that this industry is part of the machine that tells us we have an issue and must purchase something to fix it. Even if what we have, isn’t truly an issue (like my freckles!). What we need to do (especially as women) is be confident in our own machinery so that we don’t internalize problems that aren’t even there to begin with. We have enough to worry about and the necessity to exfoliate with papaya enzymes so that we defy age isn’t worth the worry and rarely, the price.

“Mirror Mirror”

7 Nov
Finger pointing

Image via Wikipedia

I have a hard time calling people on their crap. Partly because I question if that is truly my responsibility and I’d rather conserve my energy for something else with the better odds of return on my time investment. Now, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue if their baggage and missteps didn’t often become mine. The irony is however, that people do not exercise such caution with me.

I am no stranger to feedback. Thanks to those around me I now know that I am arrogant, stubborn, stuck-up, concise, stingy, too-quiet, conservative, at times loose-lipped, while disguised as the victim. After being on the receiving end of a verbal dumping I am often left to my devices as to how I am going to address all these observed flaws. And yes, these are my family and friends (Lord knows what my enemies would say).

But I often wonder, why people are so comfortable knocking you down, but don’t equally extend the effort to build you up. Or at least give you the blueprints to do so.

Here’s why: If people stay distracted, they can neglect their own issues long enough to forget them. They are no more a picture of human perfection than you are. They’re just hoping that while they are giving you your critic’s notes, that you will not notice. That’s not to say, that points of accountability from others are to be dismissed; I have learned a lot about myself, my intentions vs other’s perceptions of me as well as how pivotal it is to truly know myself, so that I can define myself and grow comfortable in defending that definition. I just also know, that I am not alone in this. So as opposed to beating myself up, I can take it all with a wink and a strut as I go to work!

“Blue Rose”

28 Oct

There was a time when I thought that if:

I got straight A’s, I’d be praised

If I was thinner, I’d be complimented

If I was quiet, I’d be intriguing

If I spoke up, I’d be respected

If I were social, I’d be popular

If I were wilder, I’d be a hot commodity

If I were liberal, I would liberated

If I were funnier, I’d be the life of the party

If I was docile, I’d be respected

If I loved harder, I’d be loved in return

I thought that if I somehow managed the perfect balance of being what other’s wanted from me and what I wanted, I’d finally be viewed as an obedient daughter, loving granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, dependable friend, a gracious lover. But trying to be all that to everyone left me unfulfilled and spent because in the midst of considering everyone else, I forgot about me.

Now, I’m working on putting my desires first because I’ve accepted that most of the steps that I take in this life are lonely, meaning the repercussions of my choices are mine to bear. And besides dealing with my personal disappointment has proven to be easier than the disappointment of others.

“Growing Pains”

26 Oct

I’m quite cerebral. I mean, I spend a lot of time in my head, analyzing, intellectualizing, manipulating, all in attempt to understand my thoughts, and behavior. Because of this, I am always under a self-imposed microscope (of sorts) often reflecting and replaying events, conversations, missteps, words that I have spoken (or not)…I am in a sense acutely aware of my short-comings and growth opportunities. I often pray that I don’t go into the ground the same way I have been, hoping to somehow crack my code and become the best person that I can muster up the strength and courage to achieve. I’m growing to accept that in doing this, I am always in transition. It’s impossible to want and pray for change and remain constant, but

OH THE GROWING PAINS!!!

This journey is not without resistance, many tears, bouts of loneliness, and frustration, but in all the bitter, there are elements of sweet that are enticing and intriguing, encouraging me to keep at it and not flee (which is ever the challenge).

Relationship Obsession

17 Oct

Why does it seem like some people are obsessed with relationships? They seek advice about relationships and the decisions they make pertaining to developing said relationships they spend money on books and therapists to manage their relationships. There are songs, movies-in many ways a whole industry dedicated to relationships. And all the while people are getting criticized for being “too relationship focused”.

I’ve often heard the advice to just “get over it” after a tough break up and it has never ceased to be upsetting (even if I do eventually heed the advice). But isn’t it natural to be obsessed over something that is essential for survival? It has been proven that an infant can die if never receiving personal touch or contact with another source of life, so the innate programming to be “obsessed” over friendships, popularity, being in love, affection, dating, marriage and the like, should be a part of who we are. Not many people (if they are truly honest with themselves) want to live a life in complete solitude and isolation (even after a string of negative personal interactions). We all want to be loved, appreciated, validated and who can achieve that solo?

“Stop This Train”

16 Oct

It’s been a while since my last post and all I can say is that sometimes breaks are necessary…

I’m finding more and more these days that I am rarely prepared or equipped to handle this ride of life; the speed bumps, abrupt stops, and fast acceleration. I realize that no book I have read, class I have taken, or advice given could have gotten me ready for the emotional tailspin I find myself in as I reflect and analyze my growth (which in some ways is stunted to say the least).

I have never been fearless, but I did approach life with tenacity and a clear vision of where I wanted to end up, what I wanted to achieve, a plan on how I was going to get there. I didn’t spend too much time analyzing my moves, I just made them. That was when I was younger. Before I felt the consequential sting of my choices.  Now I feel more tentative. 

While I’m not comfortable in this state, I have accepted that when you choose life, you are automatically signing up for the ride. So, I am not exempt from the ebbs and flows of growth and maturity. But honestly, being ill-prepared is so damn frustrating. So, in that frustration, I at times have to block out the noise and distraction so that I allow myself to be present in the moment; to grasp what I am supposed to learn and take stock of my strengths as well as opportunities as a means to keep it all in perspective. Hence my absence. Oddly enough though, writing is just the therapy I need to aid in my refocus, so here I sit at this computer committing to my growth. I often say that I don’t want to go into the ground the same as when I was born, so clearly as painful as it may be, this is requisite in the achievement of that goal.