8 minutes to post.

Writing something down is easier to get away with not doing said thing, because no one knows about it.

However with me, there’s something finite about seeing ink on paper. Especially if it’s defined as a goal.

August 1st.

It’s been 31 days since I last published, and I set my intention to post something tonight, with 8 minutes left in the day.

Thinking of every excuse means you’re hiding.

Post.

conversations with a cop.

Understanding my mindset is pretty simple.  I live a good life filled with yoga, joyful kids, a supportive family & set of friends, all of which is the basic recipe for being stress-free.  I’m a mediator, a libra, a feminist and an empath, and it may appear that there’s not too much I could ever be angry or worried about, but I still do at times because I care.

I care about a lot of topics that encompass social justice, human rights, mental health, physical health, health in general, biohacking, sports and whatever #blacktwitter is discussing. I care about people who’ve had their voices stifled, those who’ve lost hope,  those who’ve managed to use blinders to protect themselves from the light that can save them.

My abilities to have unusual conversations, anything not related to the weather, what you do or who you’re dating; but everything related to how you feel,  who do you want to be and who do you want to help & how, are at the forefront of discussion. I’m an INFP.  I take pride in knowing that I’ve fostered a sense of encouragement that leads to growth and progress of those I care about.

My squad consists of social entrepreneurs, physicians, teachers, pharmacists and cops.  Actually, just one cop.

Anyway, our conversations generally get deep, insightful, humorous and provocative as we each not only share thoughts but ask why.    With friends like these, you have a higher purpose – a mission that’s bigger than the self.  And you know it, they know it, we all feel it and we show up more powerful in the world we live because of this discourse.

Understanding and sensing how people think and feel is pretty much my forte.  I can sense if you’re bluffing (outside of poker) and I can sense if you need to dig deeper into your work or move on to the next thing.  Having a diverse set of friends provides me with a wide range of perspective and enormous amounts of empathy.

Recently, I caught up with a friend who’s black, who’s a male and who’s a cop in America.  Which isn’t the toughest job in this country, but I digress.

Navigating what my cop friend sees by provoking the why’s – that I graciously adopted from my 2.5 year old nephew who asks “why” after I say anything – allowed me to dig up enough fuel to help him see what I see.

He recently posted a picture, defending his peers for what they’re doing “right” which made me slightly disturbed.  Protecting and highlighting those who “safely” arrest people by not choking them to death or shooting someone in the leg instead of their 12-year-old chest, isn’t the point.

Highlighting (or blaming) the 1% of cops who aren’t trained properly to do their job isn’t the point either, but it’s the start at scratching the surface of unraveling what is so deeply rooted in our history.

I’m not a full-time activist, psychologist, analyst or history buff.  However, I am a concerned human who understands the importance of basic human rights, and will dig deep into how I can use my strengths to fight for justice.

He asked me to write up some inspirational mojo/carpe diem type stuff after we linked up, so I did – but I got very real with him and didn’t sugar coat much.  It’d be safe to tell him “yolo, keep doing what you’re doing!” but I didn’t.  I was blunt, honest and direct because I care.

It’s difficult following a path if you’re trying to change the culture of an environment that you’re not even passionate or concerned about.  If you don’t even enjoy who you’re surrounding yourself with, why try to change them? It’s more important to build a new tribe of those you enjoy being around, those who you want to help.  If you’re in a position of power, use your skills and knowledge constructively, to teach and show others what you see.  It could save a life and create a better environment for future generations.

 

anger matters.

There are times I want to scream and shout out loud “WHAT THE [redacted] IS HAPPENING IN OUR WORLD?!”   whenever I step outside, but I’m humbly reminded by folks like my parents, that this has been going on for a long long time.  I get angry and amazed because it seems that they’re not even phased by this, but I understand they’re tired too. They’ve they’ve marched, they’ve spoken up, they’ve protested; and it’s the same story, the same fight.

The difference now is that because of what they went through, they’re sharing are their experiences of the injustice, the battles they’ve fought, the tears and blood they shed to protect what’s theirs. These stories in itself are worth our efforts to speak up about what’s currently happening in this present moment.

Those who seem to never be heard, the stories that seem to always be in drafts and never sent, are finally having their voices amplified. #blacktwitter, Abernathy, Blavity – are all sounding boards and projects built from people like me who are frustrated. This is our therapy, a space where we can actually voice our opinions, and we’re finally getting noticed.

So, what’s next?

Use this anger, rage, aggression – this negative energy – to create and do something meaningful. Manifest your thoughts into something that can uplift, inspire and ultimately change the environment you want to live in. Anger turns into pride, which turns to courage, then willingness, acceptance and ultimately peace, when used constructively.

It’s not going to happen immediately, but continue to speak up. Your voice & creations will plant the seeds for our future, with the hopes of saving our lives that matter.

project update #2: my e-book!

Back in April, I made a committment to publish an e-book by June 30th, which transpired from attending Seth Godin’s Ruckusmaker Seminar.  

As of this post, I’m on track to ship by my deadline as I feel this is a piece that will help inspire you, or at the very least, brighten your day.

The title is still a work in progress, but what is set in stone is the fact that I’ll be sharing my own personal experiences and lessons learned on taking leaps, pursuing entrepreneurship and owning my identity, by tying it with people and things that inspire me on the daily (like CrossFit, J. Cole and #blacktwitter).

If this is something you’d be interested in reading and more importantly sharing, add your name below.

life experiences. (or better yet, writing material).

Sometimes I really don’t recognize this off the bat, but I’ve had some pretty incredible – sometimes horribly decided at the time – experiences thus far, which translate into posts like this.

The most memorable one of my 20s, was hands down, the Summer of Yes (S.O.Y). Granted, I went to college, had a really cool job, won a ring, traveled during my 20s – all things that are mainly tangible, that many people can achieve. But my greatest experience came from something that some people would probably frown upon, and something that was also very personal and intentional. There’s something about recognizing what’s faux-pas in the lens of what’s normal in our society (which makes doing said thing, epic), but I’ve always been a rebel and never really conformed to what everyone else was and is doing….so, there’s that.

April 2010 marked a few months after my roommate and I had ended relationships with our significant others that equally lasted at least 3 years. Speaking for myself, I was in a stage of exploration and really giving zero [redacted].

The short version of S.O.Y. was that we couldn’t say no to anyone who asked us out on a date, unless we felt threatened (which, fortunately, was very rare). We made rules, had a point system, a white board to track everything, and an end date. This was literally a game, but what it turned out to be for me, was one of the best experiences of my life. (If you’re reading this and thinking if you were one of those I dated during this time, the answer is most likely, yes :).

For the first time, ever, I wasn’t thinking about who my next boyfriend, husband or soulmate would be. I didn’t want to be in any sort of committed relationship, and made that very clear upfront.

The point wasn’t to go on a specific number or dates, or break the hearts of the men who selectively and willingly did to other women in the city. The point was to have fun. Literally, that was it. There were no ulterior motives. I’ll spare all the juicy details because they’re not important in this platform, but if you’re curious and want the long version, feel free to hit me up.

Carefree, yet intentionally purposeful in my actions. Each of my personal experiences during this summer and the underlying feelings, conversations and connections that were involved, are all still relevant today.

Nearly five years later, I’m writing about this experience in somewhat long form, yet also recognizing how important this stage of my life was. In hindsight, I learned more about myself as it relates to what attracts me not only physically, but mentally as well. I learned about trust, forgiveness, love and most importantly, detachment – or the beautiful art and practice of letting go. I did the inner work, without even realizing that I was shedding another layer into recognizing my true self.

The key is to create similar experiences that not only scare you, but that push you over the edge. The ones that nobody is really talking about. The ones that result in inspiring others once you share your story. The ones that make you think, “should I really being doing that?”

The answer is probably yes. Taking what’s probable into what’s possible requires leaping.

Do it.

 

 

 

 

the three biggest lessons I learned in May.

1. Don’t bottle up things inside. Instead, let them out, bit by bit. Doing so will help your journey feel less intense.

2. In the moments of intense anxiety, despair or anything that’s similar to those feelings, acknowledge them and understand that the answer to the meaning of life rarely comes in those moments. Wait ’til the smoke clears.  It’s prettier on the other side. Clarity ensues.

3. After recognizing what needs to be addressed, ask for what you want. After all, it is #shootyourshot season.

 

walking in west baltimore.

I felt guilty for not helping, for not witnessing the protests or walking the streets where he was shot.

I felt guilty for heading out of town when there were hundreds of opportunities to help clean up the streets that same weekend I left.

I felt guilty because I was afraid to head to the city – the real city – where the media had filmed the “riots.”

But today, I felt different.

Last night before bed, I scrolled through my twitter feed, and came across a post of a beautiful mural dedicated to Freddie Gray. I reached out to the woman who snapped this shot and she gave me the location where I could see this first hand.

I drove to Sandtown, specifically to the corner of Presbury and Mount, to not only see this mural that was curated just a few days ago, but to walk the streets to get a sense of who actually lives here.

At first, I was nervous for walking around, but as I roamed the streets, people greeted me and said hello. It was an overall chill vibe, but I could only imagine what the tension was like just a few weeks prior as some streets were still blocked off as a few scattered cops were standing guard.

As I arrived on the same streets where thousands protested, I felt a sense of peace. Now, the streets are quiet with people going about their day-to-day business. Women on the stoops braiding hair, kids walking around, men standing on the corner, politicin’ as usual. I walked up to the mural, with the fresh spray paint smell still residing in the air. I spotted a popular activist, Deray Mckesson, on the corner filming a piece in front of another building where a local Baltimore artist was creating another mural: a mix of images of MLK protests to what just transpired in these past two weeks. There were a few people with their DSLRs snapping away, but also engaging in conversations with those who were raised on these streets.

The boarded up row houses were not unnoticed, but this was expected. I’ve driven down these streets before, and understood this to be the “normal” west side of Baltimore.

I chatted up with three older black gentleman, one of whom was born and raised at Gilmore Homes – and actually bet $1,000 to his friend [who’s in jail] that he has proof that he was born there and when I tell you he was PROUD of where he was from – he pulled out a folder with his birth certificate with proof that he was born here. These cats just wanted to be heard. They voiced their opinions on how corrupt the cops are, how it took another murder for people to actually take a look at west Baltimore, and how instead of investing millions of dollars to rebuild Canton and the Waterfront, how about taking that money to help those who actually live here. With their frustrations, they all mentioned that it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to shed light on this neighborhood. All they can do is talk about what’s going on, with hopes that more people like us (the artists, the curious folks, those wanting to help) will actually do so and not just put this on the back burner.

I no longer feel guilty. I reside in Baltimore, and I have the chance to help 24/7. Spending just about an hour in this neighborhood was enough time to give me a feeling of hope. That there are people committed and demanding change, and taking immediate action to turn this place around.

Progress.

Let’s just hope this momentum continues.

tragedy into triumph.

I remember asking my dad one evening what he thinks it will take to fix Haiti’s situation (poor infrastructure, poverty levels, government issues, etc.). Although I don’t remember his exact verbiage, it was something along the lines of: Haiti may need to be wiped out completely for the people to start all over and rebuild.

This conversation was about a year before the 2011 earthquake struck the country.

The moment the quake hit, I remember the conversation my dad and I had, and immediately thought, well shit…is this what he meant by starting all over? I cringe at the thought and the uncanny feeling I get even typing these words, but it [sadly] took one of the most devastating natural occurrences to strike this country for the world to see and pay attention to this place.

In the wake of the police brutality that seems as if it’s never disappearing, and the fact that it actually happened in the city I was born, reminds me of what my dad said.  Sometimes it may take something drastic/tragic/devastating for people to pay attention.

As I navigate my life and create a vision and opportunities for myself that only appear when I speak my truths, see what’s missing and actually set action plans towards what I want for my life, I often recognize my choices and actions stemming from a tragic event that happened.

This isn’t anything really surprising. There are stories and songs that end up being uplifting and beautiful but it stems and was created from a place of pain or despair. There’s a reason why some of my favorite songs [Lauryn Hill’s ‘Ex-factor‘ or Bob Marley’s Redemption Song] come from a place of pain or tragedy. The irony is not lost on me.

Some people take a shift in their careers/outlooks on life/their purpose after there has been death in a family, a major relationship break-up or they’ve been forced to do so [e.g. job loss].

A tragedy is a tragedy and some may seem bigger or more important than others, but the point is that there’s a noticeable shift in what’s happening. It’s affecting the way I see the world and what actions I can set in place to ensure I’m contributing to something bigger than myself. 

I’m from Baltimore.

It’s exhausting telling people where I’m from.

“No, but I’m from the county.”

“No, not where The Wire was filmed.”

“No, not in the city. I live about 30 minutes away.” 

“Oh, and yeah, my family is Haitian. “

Maybe it’s because I’m brown, and most people automatically assume people who look like me should speak a certain way, and live in a certain zip code.  But as soon as I mention the last bit “my family is Haitian” it’s like everything I resemble makes sense to them. “Ohh so that’s why you speak like that.”

Today I woke up tired. Most likely from watching the news and reading my twitter feed and being angry at what friends were posting on Facebook – not realizing how racist their words are, or them – from the night before.

We’re all ignorant to what’s actually happening, unless we’ve been through the trenches, and experienced what those who are in the media have been through, or have some empathy towards a disenfranchised group.

It surprised me that people were shocked about these protests, and even more surprised at the buildings that were being burned vs. the actual core of what is happening/has happened time and time again.

Maybe it’s because my family came from the trenches – of a third world country – that they provided me with the safety of growing up no where close to anything that may resemble what they have gone through.

When I say I’m from Baltimore, I feel that there’s two sides. The county and what you see on the news. Just like Haiti.  Portraying a place as always violent and in distress is one thing especially if you’ve never visited.  But we all know there’s two sides to every story.

The core of it all is fucked up. Money, politics and race. It all comes down to race and the injustices that occur from a system that wasn’t built for anyone else than those who built it.

Today I felt torn. I wanted to help, but didn’t want to get hurt. Physically, emotionally – afraid of feeling and seeing what I’ve been raised not to even experience.

This is the exact reason why I need to help. To understand what people who look like me feel – the same people that when others ask where I’m from, assume I am. To create change and to uplift those who think they never have a chance at survival.  There are too many people running away from what’s happening, ignoring these issues (and people) as if they don’t exist, and blaming those who are hurt for disrupting “their” city.

“People don’t want to believe that they actually are racists or that the systems & institutions that they pay into and buy into are actually working actively against certain people…people can’t come up with how they feel and as a result don’t want to face the realities of where they live.” – Clinton Yates

death in motion.

Sometimes I feel that I’m so out of touch with reality that I don’t even know what to prioritize.

Today changed that.  Practicing expressing what I want & feel to others has opened up my eyes on how out of touch I really was, with myself & how I see others.

I shared exactly what I was thinking with my brother after catching him up on my dad’s status, and his sentiments were eerily similar.

He’s a “retired” physician who still thinks he runs the hospital, so he was dictating vs. accepting and listening. Smoker for probably 60 years and 73 years old. We can count the times our entire family will see each other again and it’s frightening. Yet, we have an opportunity (as you do too) to cherish every single moment with those in your circle. Those you love and care for.

My dad is fine and not on his death bed, but today put everything into perspective.  As he’s being treated in the hospital room, we were watching the live stream of Baltimore City Police describing what did or didn’t happen to another black man shot by cops in America. Countless deaths are being broadcasted everywhere you look, and I’ve lost count the number of names that turned into hashtags. Death can put a lot of things into perspective and in motion.

As I was afraid to even enter the hospital, I knew I eventually had to as I’ve learned to face my fear to understand what it’s trying to tell me.

We all need a safe space for people to share their stories, whether that’s through a blog or face to face.  This starts conversations where people open up & trust is built with one another.  We’re all hurt and have a story to tell. We all need healing. Provide the space for someone you love.