Every now & then, it’s good to take a step back from everything. I think the last thing I shared with you guys was that I managed to pull in a 4.0 GPA in my graduate studies while working, full-time, part-time & as a part-time grad assistant on a research project, outside of the “ghosting” research I’m doing for my own Master’s defense & that I needed a much needed vacation. While the idea of family vacation sounds like a good idea in theory, I don’t know why I keep convincing myself to go on family vacays every year. I’m not built for that shit.
I love my family, but sometimes, my family exhausts me. What was supposed to be an oasis of relaxation turned into anything but. Weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend, I dreamed of an escape where I would do nothing but lay on the beach & read a good book & then go back to my hotel room & read some more. All I wanted to eat some amazing sea food & soak up the sun while wading in the water. And I did…well, kind of.
So here’s the thing, so I don’t sound like my family vacation was totally fucked up on account of my family, lol. I kinda sorta rescued 2 senior Yorkie dogs a couple weeks ago (totally on a whim) & I’ve been absolutely obsessed with them. It’s like, I’m a new mother & my life has been consumed with the responsibilities that come along with adopting child pets. On one hand, they’ve brought me so much joy. On the other hand, I feel like, “it’s not just me anymore” & everything I do, I have to consider them. It’s scary as shit because this is the whole reason I don’t have kids.
So needless to say, my social media activity has taken a back seat. It was my truest intent to schedule content while I was on vacation, but the truth is, I didn’t even pack a single thing until the night before I left & in true fashion, I packed waaaay more shit than I ever could have worn. But anyways, taking time away from social media always gives me clarity.
I feel like, people put way too much energy into social media. Sometimes, I put way too much energy into social media. While I was on vacation, I almost felt “compelled” to post something, just for the sake of posting. Like, “Oh, I’m here in this fabulous place, let me take a pic…” Fuck it. I decided that rather than post, I’d actually be present. I had to check myself & ask, “Okay, why are you really posting?” On one hand, for a blogger, such as myself, I feel pressure to post, to engage & stay relevant. Out of sight, out of mind (which is evident by my MASSIVE decrease in my analytics this week, ouch!). But I had to remind myself this week, that my happiness isn’t & shouldn’t be measured by the approval of my friends/followers. But then, isn’t that the whole fucking fucked up psychology behind social media, anyway? To play on your happiness by the approval (likes) of other people?
As I laid on that beach, which was pretty close to paradise, I couldn’t help but wonder…how much does social media affect our social realities?
People seem surprised when I say this, but I s2g it’s true. If you know me, like really know me, then you know I have somewhat of a social anxiety. I don’t really like to go out, I have to be in a whole mood.
. If you were to observe me in my natural element, you’d notice that I rarely look people in the eyes. Now if you meet me, say at an appearance or something, that’s totally different. When I know “I’m on” then I can like switch to an extrovert personality. But the truth is, I love just hanging out with my family, watching movies by myself or doing what I’m doing now, on my laptop writing about some random shit.
. I know it seems like I talk a lot on here, but due to the ambiguous nature that is social media as a whole, I find this more an outlet where people I don’t even know may or may not be listening. This is more so a space for me to say most of the things that are in my head throughout the day & on the few occasions when someone does engage, I am reminded of my voice & that someone out there may be relating to me. And this serves me well. Me & my overtly introverted ass.
The only time being quiet actually bothers me is when people misinterpret my silence as “something wrong”. Sometimes I’ve been so caught off guard when asked, “what’s wrong” that I questioned my own well-being in that moment. I find that when I’m quiet, people tend to render my silence as me being sad or upset or “in a mood” when nothing could be further from the truth of me being perfectly content. It doesn’t help that on occasion, I’ve also been told I have a resting bitch face so people also assume that I’m “stuck up” or unapproachable. When they can’t read your silence, they write their own story about you.
Have you ever considered that you might be afraid of success?
. Sounds crazy, huh? But I think this is exactly what I’m experiencing. In fact it’s what many of us fear. I once read an article that associated the fear of success to the arousal experienced during sexual trauma. I didn’t agree with that argument for more reasons than one although, the article gave a second reason as a precondition of “getting your hopes up” only to be disappointed. While I could see the logic in that, it still didn’t exactly resonate for what I was experiencing.
. For months, I’ve sat on my manuscript for my book, Ghosts of Love Lives Past. This is an idea that has been prophesied to me by several people. And as good as I know it is, I have yet to actually submit it to be printed. It’s an incredible read, I promise you & I’m not just saying that because I wrote it. I’m saying that because it’s SO GOOD, in fact, sometimes I can’t believe I wrote it. Effortlessly. In a matter of weeks, in fact. I literally sat down to write a blog post, such as this & it turned into a freaking book.
. As crazy as it sounds, it almost makes sense to me NOT to publish the book & keep pushing back the release date because it gives me something to look forward to, versus, if I release it…then what? Ride the wave for a bit then crash?
. I kinda feel like, having this book “in the works’ gives me something to look forward to. I mean, I know I could (& will) write another book once I’ve released this one, but I won’t ever be able to write or publish my very first book again. Does that even make sense?
Behdad Sami once said, “A lot of people are afraid to succeed and don’t want to fail, but if you don’t attempt, aren’t you already failing in the same spot?” With that said, your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure. After all, it would be a shame to be in this same spot this time next year saying the same damn thing. I’ve told my sister several times that I’ve had sort of a premonition that once I “make it” I’m going to realize that success was there (in that moment) all along.
Yet, the question still haunts me, “what are you afraid of?”
The truth is everybody’s not built to be an entrepreneur. Some of us need structure. Some of us lack the discipline or the drive to become a “boss”. Some of us don’t even have the desire to be one in the first place. Whatever in life you find to be your calling, do it with pride & honor. Whether it’s running a company or running to the carpool to pick up your kids. God placed you here for a reason. It’s easy to negate our purpose, thinking that our works should be displayed on a grander stage but when you can find meaning in things outside of yourself, then that’s reason enough. If my purpose is to write for the dozens of you who engage with me, then I’ve served my purpose well. . .
My hope today is that these words guide you one step closer to your purpose & that you find purpose in what you do. . .
My mother has always had a green thumb. When I was a kid, I loved being in the yard with her at the first sign of spring planting buds in her flower bed. For the petite woman she was, my mother had no problem pulling up weeds and hedging the bushes on any given Saturday afternoon. You would think I would’ve inherited this crafty skill, but not so. While I enjoyed spending time with my mom running through the sprinklers after she mowed the lawn, putting in the work was never my strong suit.
As I got older, it seems as though my mother was subconsciously trying to pass this trait on to me. Last year for Mother’s day, she got me yet another potted plant, as if I didn’t still have the empty ceramic dish from the last one she bought me that I fatally neglected. “It’s a hosta fragrant, DeJ,” she insisted, “Those are hard to kill.”
In the “white room” of her home, it’s practically a nursery. She has greenery for days. Vines and blooms like you’ve never seen before. Aside from the empty vase that once contained flowers I got for Valentine’s day, my home is also aligned with beautiful flowers, albeit they’re all artificial. And I prefer it that way. I barely have time to nurture things I do care about in life, let alone some…potted plant that’s bound to die, anyway.
“Kaye got a new bloom, I noticed,” she called me one day to
declare of the plant she so lovingly named after herself. “It’s like whenever I’m
coming out of my struggle, DeJ, she gives me a sign that something new is in
bloom,” she continued. My mother has always been one for symbolism, so perhaps,
this is where I get it from.
Gardening tips aside, I love the symbolism that springtime brings, too. Especially lately since I’ve been in somewhat of a slump. This week, I decided to do some spring cleaning. I’ve always felt like decluttering my home helped declutter my thoughts. After tackling my 2 biggest obstacles, my kitchen & my closet, I decided to give my fireplace one last cleaning of the season. As I gathered up the firewood to take to my outside storage, I stumbled upon the hosta plant that my mother gave to me last year. “Since I’m going outside anyway, I may as well put it out too,” I declared of the plant.
The next day, I made somewhat of a comeback to social media after a bit of a hiatus to clear my head. I explained how I’d hit a roadblock & needed time to reset. Before getting in bed that night, I closed the blinds to my patio doors & noticed a small shadow on the porch. When I went to investigate it further, I noticed it was leaf that had sprouted overnight. It reminded me of something my mother said, “Those are hard to kill.” And it gave me hope.
Don’t be jealous of the rose. You’re a hosta fragrant bouquet who, despite being deprived of sunlight & water, refused to die but instead decided to bloom. And after all, roses come by the dozen.
After seven years negative information is no longer reported on your credit. This idea got me to thinking about negative information as it pertains to reputational damage within relationships.
Last week, I found out some serious allegations against someone whom I consider a friend. We’ve also endeavored into business relations, as well. When confronted with the unsettling news that I received, my initial thought was to sever all ties for fear of reputational damage to myself. Then I remembered the old saying, that there’s 3 sides to every story. While I’d heard the side of what appeared to be solid facts, I wanted to know the side I hadn’t heard, from the person I’ve come to know and trust.
I can tell you that finding out the bombshell that was relayed to me had me on an emotional roller coaster. I went from feeling sad to betrayed to angry to hurt to conflicted, seemingly all at once. For the past week or so, I’ve unplugged from almost everything and everyone. While trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I didn’t want anyone else’s opinion. So I didn’t go on social media. Didn’t even care to. Didn’t tell my closest friends, as I often do. I only contacted the people who were directly involved. And not for their opinion, but because at that time, I felt it was the right thing to do. All of this led me to the question: How long are we subject to the label of guilt in the court of public opinion?
When someone is found guilty by law & pays their debt to society, how long are they obligated to don the proverbial Scarlet letter? After 7 years, negative information “falls off” your credit report but if you’re charged with a crime, what happens when you go 7 years without incident and someone can still bring up an old charge against you? How long before the debts of dumb mistakes fall off your reputational report?
When a person is reformed from a bad behavior, whether it’s drug use or something more sinister, what’s the time frame they should be given to recognize that their past transgressions are null and void? If you go to Alcohol Anonymous & claim 7 years of sobriety, people will sing your praises for 7 years of good behavior. But why is it that there are some crimes that have the potential to resurface & effect you for the rest of your life?
In my Comm classes for my dissertation, we talk about being a voice and letting our voices be heard. When I found out about my friend, my knee-jerk reaction was to disassociate myself from him completely. I thought, “Well, it’s not my intent to smear his name, but if he’s going to ‘make it’ he’s going to have to do it without me.” Then I thought about another moral aspect. “This man is someone who you’ve called your brother,” I thought to myself. How would you proceed, if he was in fact, your brother? It seemed clear to me at that point, that if he were my brother, I’d be more adept at understanding things from his perspective rather than simply “knowing what I know”. If he were my brother, I’d be able to look at the facts in relation to the person that I know, & my relationship with him. Not excusing his behavior, but if he were my brother, then I’d want to see him have a chance at redemption. And I would stand beside him.
Sometimes when you’re going through things, it’s best to tune everyone out so you can figure out what’s important to YOU. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what social media says, what society says, even what your family says. But what matters more than anything is your own voice.
During our conversation, the thing that struck me the most was not what he said but the way he said it. At no time in our exchange did his disposition change. He was forthcoming. He displayed remorse and he was apologetic, even in moments of my hysteria. Our conversation reminded me of one I’d had with Big, a former lover of mine who also had a rap sheet that was as long as an altar call at a Baptist church. I also chronicled this story in my book of how Big recalled how messed up society is for convicted felons to make a living. My friend, like Big at the time, is a young man with his whole life ahead of him. When slapped with legal labels such as convict or worse, it’s nearly impossible to walk into any decent establishment to seek employment. Like Big, my friend was blessed with an amazing talent that has the potential to create & sustain a life for him & his family. Big would often tell me about “legal loopholes” he used for starting his businesses. And I respected him for not complaining about the situation he was in & instead becoming a super successful entrepreneur.
We often talk about being the voice for change. When thinking of the moment that I was ready to dismiss the idea of any association with him, I had a moment of insight. I thought, “If someone like Oprah Winfrey or Barack Obama were in my situation & decided to back this guy, I believe people would commend them for giving him a second chance.” What if I was the voice that spoke up for him? What if my voice was able to help people turn from what they thought of him into the kind, compassionate and sensible guy I know rather than the person they think he is. People can change, after all. If he were a drug addict, he would go to rehab. If he were an alcoholic, he’d go to AA. But once you’ve been labeled a bad person, how do you reform from that? Furthermore, how long are you subjected to the conviction from public opinion?
There are some questions that I still don’t have the answers for. And that’s okay. I understand that some people may still decide to turn their backs on him & perhaps me in the process. And that’s okay, too. What I know to be true is who I am and what I believe. And while this may be an unpopular opinion, I believe in him until he gives a reason not to.
I want to be explicitly clear that I don’t support the decision that was made 7 years ago. And I won’t allow anyone to misconstrue the facts in order to discredit my name in an attempt to make it seem like I condone immoral behavior when I do not. Likewise, I don’t believe it’s fair to regurgitate old offenses that haven’t transpired since that time. In situations such as this, there are no winners. And if my position seems biased, it’s because I can only speak to the side of the person to which I’ve established a relationship with. Additionally, I want to be clear that the information I received was not enough that I feared for my personal safety or anyone else’s. If I did, then I wouldn’t continue a relationship. And for me, that’s what it all came down to.
I believe that nothing in this world is foolproof. And unfortunately, that includes both our legal system & our relationships. I’m now in a position of trying to reconcile the two. This led me to look at many other relationships in my life where these two intersect. I have many friends, lovers & relatives who have criminal pasts, including the two people who brought me into this world. If I based my relationship with them off of what the legal system said, then I wouldn’t have a relationship with them, legally or literally speaking.
From what I know about people, we have intentions in most of the things we do. Sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad. There are people who will try to destroy your name because they are intimidated by your success. But there are also people who make admissions because they are so compelled by what they believe and I’m grateful for those whose intents to make me aware were out of genuine concern on my behalf. What I know for sure is my ability to discern the good in people. While we live in a cold world where there are no guarantees, I trust myself to make the best decision for me & my future.
I understand that when you first meet someone, you don’t tend to lead with your worse self. No one walks up like, “Hi, I’m DeJa and I’m an ex-con”. At the same time, it’s also important to consider how your past could affect someone else’s future. Non-disclosure of information doesn’t give a person the choice of whether or not they want to pursue a relationship, whether it’s business or personal. And regardless of how uncomfortable this can be, this is a courtesy that should be extended from the primary source, rather than a third party.
Potter Stewart, a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court once said, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is the right thing to do.” When we’re able to put egos aside and place things in perspective, we then realize that it’s not always about who is right but it’s more important to do what is right.
A coworker of mine came in the office last week describing
the scene on the highway of something compared to a royal escort. She said there
was probably every law enforcement officer in the Pulaski county area present
& that she didn’t know what was going on, but it was big.
Immediately, I got on “the Google” to see if we were being
visited by a dignitary here in the state. I knew it couldn’t be the President.
He happened to out of the country on some kind of expedition with someone in
North Korea that day. That evening, I’d learn the tributes were for a little
boy named Louie.
Louie Schneider is a 9-year old boy who’s currently in hospice care at an Arkansas hospital. He’s been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality and only has a short time left to live. As a final wish, of sorts, Louie requested one thing. He wanted letters from every state in America.
Hearing his story, it made me realize this, too was a #RealLifeLoveStory , but a love story of a different sort. And I wanted to send Louie a love letter of my own.
Often times when we set out to make a difference, we feel
like we have to make grand gestures. But hearing the story of this sweet little
boy made me realize the impact of something seemingly so small. As of this
week, Louie had received letters from all states except New Hampshire, North
Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.
Join me in sending #LoveLettersToLouie and be sure to share this story so that we can make his wish come true.
Mail letters to Louie here:
#LoveLettersToLouie C/O Project Zero 10 Kings Court Little Rock, Ark. 72211
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of soulmates.
In theory, it’s a beautiful notion, this idea that there’s
someone out there who you’re destined to be with. A person designed
specifically for you. But in all of the optimism of finding that special one, comes
along with the scathing reality of not finding the one or even losing them. It
got me to thinking. In life, are we allowed more than one soulmate?
In asking this question, I first had to ponder what does
that even mean? What exactly is a soulmate?
As someone offered on my Facebookpost
today, soulmates are those people who stay around for the long run, but maybe
not a lifetime. I happen to believe that the word is a kin to it’s namesake, a
person who’s soul or spirit connects with yours. For me, it can be any person
who’s made a significant impact in your life, whether it’s a lover, family
member or friend. This person went onto say that there are three types of people
you encounter in life: Kindred Spirits, Soulmates, and Twin Flames. Kindred
spirits, she suggested, are people you “vibe with,” like minded but they may
not be around long term. She further explained that the “true goal” is to find
your twin flame – the one person who’s meant for you.
Whatever name you want to call it, my question remains the
same. Do you believe that in a lifetime, you only get one true love?
My ex & I had a disagreement about this a long time ago.
His position was that you only get one true love. I remember we were talking
about marrying our soulmates, at that time, we believed each other to be
soulmates. He said to me, “When I marry you, that’s it. Ain’t no other soulmate
for me.” In a genuinely curious moment I asked, “Not to be morbid babe, but
what happens if I die?” He insisted that he believed that you only get one
& after that, he’d be done. It made me sad. Having lost a man who I believe
to this day was my soulmate, I expressed how I believed my ex would have wanted
me to love again, the same way I would want him to. Think about it. Imagine falling
in love & marrying “the love of your
life” when life takes an unexpected turn and you lose the person who was your
If soulmates & twin spirits are restricted to just one, then what a sad notion it is that you don’t get a second chance at true love. I truly believe that some people are lucky to find one person that they get to spend their entire life with. The rest of us are blessed to get more.
Call me crazy, but I happen to believe in the abundance of love.
I honestly didn’t expect it to happen this year. But on the eve of New Year’s Eve as I drove home, on a cold, rainy night no less, I felt the pressure rising up in my chest. To be honest, I felt it early Saturday morning when I woke up in a beautiful suite that overlooked my city, all alone. Continue reading “Happy Freakin’ New Year”→