consistency

I awoke this morning to a gray and rainy day. It is my last day of spring break before another eight weeks of school ahead and truth be told I am not feeling it. I just lay awake in bed with absolutely no desire to do anything; get up, shower, or put on clothes. And while the next day should not fuck with today, reality is sometimes it does. I know what depression is and it is not I would like to return.

I am still unsure what compelled me to move, but I managed to concoct a smoothie and prep vegetables to be eaten later whenever. Then, I started with the binge watch streaming. Midway into episode three I realized I was watching other people pursue their dreams and it reminded me that during the past week while I rested, refreshed, and refocused, I knew for things to change I have to remain consistent.

Although there are quite a few things that need to change, I can only tackle a few at a time to ensure success. Physically, work out daily. Whether it is at the house or in the gym. For fifteen minutes or sixty. Eat cleaner. Emotionally, write daily. It could be a sentence, paragraph, or an essay. First thing in the morning, before bed, or anytime in-between. Spiritually, meditate and study. Start the day with gratitude and end in reflection. Focus.

For several months now, I have been incorporating ayurveda practices into my daily rituals. From a warm cup of lemon water first thing in the morning to abhyanga before bed, tongue scraping and dry brushing; slowly introducing a bit at time until now many things are just routine. Not tedious, but essential and invigorating. I desire for more of that and more self empowerment in my life across the board, starting immediately. My sanity necessitates that I maintain the boundaries that protect my inner sanctum. Growth, healing, and elevation, one baby step at a time, navigating this thing called life.

Onward.

 

 

Advertisements

tattoos

I believe I may have always been attracted to and interested in tattoos, so after my biological dad passed away I was compelled to get one. However, I decided to first see if I could handle getting one, thus I got a simple Capricorn symbol with my birthday centered on my upper back. Ironically, my first tattoo coincided with my epic, life changing decision to relocate to Chicago and the rest is history.

Within a month later, obviously able to handle the pain lol, I acquired my second tattoo. On my back right shoulder are four birds on a branch with the words “build your wings on the way down” inscribed around them, taken from a Ray Bradbury quote that was shared with me. That quote, “Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down”,  definitely motivated me to leave Atlanta. I did not have a plan or a job awaiting me, but I knew I wanted to move to Chicago. This tattoo signified figuring it out in motion with my two sisters and two brothers having my back every step of the way. Since then it has definitely motivated many a decision to take leaps.

About a year later, a proud first time passport recipient bitten by the travel bug, I decided on tattoo three during a return visit back to Atlanta. A compass with the word wanderlust on my right shoulder. Discovering tattoo artists in Chicago necessitated  tattoos four and five. In another attempt to see if I could handle it, I decided on a side rib tattoo. Ladybird, a given nickname (and I do not do nicknames) when I worked in a kitchen under a female head chef, written in my mother’s handwriting. Needless to say, I could barely handle it and do not foresee any sidepiece tattoos in my near future.

Next, inside my inner arm just above the elbow, “take every chance, drop every fear”. This one was my first debate with the tattoo artist about orientation. He made me sign a waiver because I wanted it “upside down” – people would not be able to read it. I explained to him that this tattoo was not for anybody else, it was for me as a reminder and encouragement, especially when jumping off cliffs lol.

A couple of quiet years later, an unexpected trip to New Zealand provoked me to start collecting tattoos on my travels (which was an ideal choice since I did not get a passport stamp in New Zealand #sideeye). Researching and contacting studios before I left, I had an appointment booked for the second day of my trip. Desiring a traditional Maori design without cultural appropriating, I chose a kiwi filled with Maori inspired symbols. I now knew the process of insuring I collected travel tattoos planfully.

Obviously relocating to South Korea opened pandora’s tattoo box since I am traveling Asia extensively. Too (re)laxed to even bother in Thailand and knowing it would be a repeater anyway, I have time to think about that one. After Taiwan, I returned with the Taiwanese tiger god and two days ago I finally got my first South Korean tattoo. Since I reside on Jeju Island, I wanted something water related. After first considering fish or octopus, I decided on a haenyeo inspired one. The haenyeo are women divers who collect various sea life creatures without underwater equipment. Armed with only goggles, a tube for balance, and a basket or net, they are truly badass. During my recent trip to Busan, I was introduced to a Japanese tattoo artist who created a beautiful mermaid like representation of the haenyeo for me.

It has been said that tattoos can be addictive; four years and eight tattoos later, perhaps. A late bloomer at 38, I like to think there is meaning and significance to each and every one, for a reason. Tattoos teach me that pain is temporary. Literally just hours after, you can forget it is even there. Moreover, the healing process illustrates how sometimes things have to get real, real ugly and uncomfortable to undercover the beauty and artistry underneath it all. Like sometime you gotta go through shit, literally shovel through manure, to reap the harvest.

Though still undecided about the dad tattoo, I have plenty of other ideas occupying my mind. Like since I have focused completely on the right side, heavily on the arm, do I complete my sleeve before I start on other areas? Will I ever get tattoos on my legs? Will I ever press through the pain and get a tattoo where I already know it will be excruciating painful? What other significant people or things in my life need to be documented, on my body . . .

Stay tuned

naked

I was first introduced to the Korean spa, jjimjilbang, by my friend Sarah as a birthday gift several years ago. I am fairly sure my level of comfort then was minimized by my prior Austrian naked sauna experience years before and so in relocating to South Korea, I have been looking forward to going again (and again). As well as the realities of not having a bathtub at home . . . Finally, on my recent spring break excursion to Busan, I found one!

Jjimjilbangs are large bathhouses, separated by gender, furnished with all kinds of goodies from snack bars to saunas and salt to sleeping rooms. For the mere price of 10000 Won (the equivalent of 9.28 USD) I spent almost three hours in a state of most necessary heavenly zen. Although more apprehensive than ever before, I got naked.

In the locker room I encountered a first timer with her swimsuit in hand asking me about the nakedness. I told her although I was unsure about the swimsuit rules, in my experience everyone just goes naked. A little more reassured myself, I got naked, showered and headed straight for the high temperature tubs. Shortly thereafter, as we met again in the bath, properly introducing ourselves and chatted, our now nakedness started being less of a concern for me. Maybe no concern as my next stop took me to the outdoor open space bath.

From there, as I transitioned to the sauna and steam rooms, I began to fully embrace the experience. Each room is unique in both theme and healing properties. Depending on the characteristics of the room, I purposefully proceeded to be both reflective and intentional. Under the pink Scorpio full moon, I got really real naked with myself. I started releasing shit that no longer serves me. I made vows and set intentions to things that serve only my highest good, from people to places. I got honest with myself about the last six months – the parts where I was contributing to me own misery and stunting my own growth. Without pen and paper or Apple Notes, in prayer and invocation, I conjured up plenty of things.

Ultimately, I realized that you do no have to bare it all for people to “see you” My nakedness became a metaphor for uncovering the parts I do not want anybody to see and know. Nevertheless, similar to not needing to step on a scale to gauge weight gain, you also do not have to take off you clothes either. Similar to the realization that clothes in your closet are no longer fitting “right” can be cause for concern; the changes in your voice, demeanor, body language, etc also ring the alarm. Just a little over six months into my relocation, I do not believe my clothes have fit right since arrival, but neither has my attitude. Since then a lethal combination of stress and apathy have packed on the pounds, literally and figuratively. My locker room conundrum mirrored my concerns around not just getting naked, but legit concern about how I looked naked. And yet, I think that is the thing about traditional bathhouse – nobody cares, but you.

After over two hours of bliss and reckoning, I finally weighed in. The scale merely confirmed what I already knew – shit has got to change. I am in no position to continue gaining weight physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually without dire consequences – not interested. Furthermore, being more comfortable in my own skin is personal, not about anybody else. I believe it Nakedness begins in the locker room as you change from your street to sauna clothes. In retrospect, I suppose one could go to the washroom to change, however everybody’s doing it, so when in Korea 😊 First I was nervous about my tattoos, as culturally there association with crime gangs (and who else knows), are frowned upon in the bathhouse. I may have to chalk this one up to my darker hue of melanin actually giving me a pass. However even more significant than my maybe objectionable body art was the current physical state of my body genuinely all starts mentally first, so I am grateful for the jjimjilbang initiating the necessary change to not only get naked, but take full advantage of it!

To be continued . . .

maturing through the manure

Yesterday, a friend reached out to me and asked how I was doing. Specifically that she did not trust pictures/social media to tell stories lol. As I responded this morning, I ended by asking: Is there something to “sucking it up”? Is the lesson how to navigate maturely though the manure (bullshit)? That was my morning epiphany on this snowy, blustery Sunday morning here on Jeju Island. A no pants Sunday. A my activity rings on my Apple watch will probably not all be closed today Sunday (why do I even put my watch on days like this?). An eat what I have, I am not cooking Sunday. A self care Sunday.

And not Netflix and chill (although I may get to that). As I write this I have my Lush Cup O’Coffee face mask on, a vanilla candle is lit in the bathroom, a pink rosemary candle on my love altar in the bedroom, and a peach candle in the living room. The only sounds I can discern are the hum of the heating system, whistling of the wind and the crackling of the candle fire. As I stare out the window and watch the wind whipping around snow flurries, nibbling on dark chocolate between keyboard strokes, all my senses are fully engaged.

I need to catch up on my Arurveda studies and homework. I should probably do some yoga or go to the gym (close my activity rings). The recycling needs to be taken out, bathroom cleaned,  and house vacuumed. I have CSA fruits and veggies I should figure out what to do with sooner than later (green papaya? What am I supposed to do with that?), however I also have a refrigerator of leftovers that should be consumed. And I would like to make some art, or rather, I likely need to. That’s a whole lot of shoulda, woulda, and couldas floating around for a day that necessitates rest(oration).

In the words of Jesse Williams, I am magic, but that doesn’t make me any less real. There are many things I need and could be doing, but I am exhausted – mentally and emotionally. It is no secret I am not in my happiest or best place/state currently and I do not apologize for being transparent about it. My parents did not raise “quiet” children and we were encouraged to express ourselves, speak our minds, and be honest/keep it real. The caveat however is that personality wise, innately, Capricorn goddess that I am – tact,  patience, and pretending/faking are just not in my DNA – for grown people (as an educator and practitioner of working with young children, it is in extremely large doses if you are like under age 6). Add to that I am woman of color, darker variety and all the misconceptions and stereotypes that comes along with that. I find myself somewhere between not hating it like I did my Atlanta experience, but not loving it like I did my Chicago experience.

Last week in my quiet time I found myself reflecting on the impact of those two life experiences. In the end, I loved my job in Atlanta and in a sense it could have been deemed a dream job. Nevertheless between single/dating/situationship hell and not feeling connected to that place like a square peg in a round hole, depression eventually reared its ugly head. A healthy dose of therapy, lease ending and motivation led me to move on and Chicago became my target.

My interest in the Windy City began in college at Florida A&M University when I first encountered young men from the Chi (where is the heart eye emoji when I need it and that could be a separate blog post in itself?!). Then a family visit during the summer of 1997 solidified it and began a long distance love affair! For the next 15 years, between visiting family and friends or professional conferences, I went to Chicago almost annually. So in March 2013 when I reached my limit and said aloud to my friend Julia at lunch “I am moving to Chicago”, the wheels were in motion. As I drove off on Sunday, April 7 in my fully loaded Ford Focus – Chicago or bust, intentions fully manifested – I never looked back.

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago – what can I say that I has not already said? I unlocked and discovered myself here, I hoped to establish roots. I returned to working with young children; pursued my Master’s in Early Childhood Education. I began my yoga practice; led to me becoming a certified children’s yoga teacher. I discovered women and communities of color to practice yoga, make magick, and form bonds. I connected with my alumni association, giving me life. I joined the gym, did crossfit and indoor rock climbing; belay certified. I got my first passport and four years, 8 countries later, I relocated out of the country.

Soon after moving to Chicago, one day my uncle asked me: “What was I running from?” My answer: “Nothing”. As I made my decision to leave Chicago and the process that ensued, I reframed that thought into: “What am I running to(wards)?” Four months in, I freely admit I ran towards financial increase and the opportunity to travel. I ran towards life lessons and experiences that will serve my best interests for the rest of my life. I ran towards friendships that cross boundaries and borders. Someone I know once told me they learned to run so they could chase their dreams, so I am going to keep running until my dreams fully manifest themselves. My life experiences have shown me that it is possible to find joy in your dharma, your location, and yourself. All at the same damn time is just the question.

And it will not be today because I am chilling. And it probably will not be this year because I have a contract to fulfill. And it may not be before 45 because life. Whenever, I am confident that above all I could hope, dream, or imagine is out there somewhere for me. So, I am going to keep running and working and pressing and pushing and praying and proclaiming and manifesting and recording and learning and struggling and crying and fighting and all.

Mature into the mastering of the manure and learn how to use it as fertilizer.

increments

My winter holiday in Thailand was a wake up call! Having gained weight, the heaviest I have ever been, I knew it was more than just weight weighing my down. Everything from finances to fitness needs an overhaul – or a reawakening perhaps. These last few months although exhilarating in many ways has also been a major life sucking energy drain in others. So while I am committed to significant changes, I knew I could not tackle everything “all at once”. My personal history has shown that baby steps and incremental work are best for forming habits with my particular personality and constitution.

Ultimately my desires centered on:

  • a regular practice of writing, reading, meditating and yoga for my mental health
  • consistent cardio, strength training, and dietary modifications for my physical health and medical concerns (and mental health)
  • financially consistent giving, saving and debt annihilation for my future, legacy, stability (and mental health)

I want these things to be routine without drudgery, obviously not overwhelming, realistically maintainable, and easily transferable, no matter what situation or circumstances I find myself.

For nearly three weeks, I have been waking up earlier to give myself enough time for a hot cup of tea, meditation, magic work and breakfast – all before going to work or stepping out into the world. Two weeks ago I started reading before I go to bed (at least 30 minutes), rather than being on devices or watching television. This past week I add the commitment to attend yoga class in the morning for four weeks (with the understanding that each week we start earlier and class gets longer). Finally, I continue to write in my journals since returning home even though this is only my second blog post three weeks into 2018.

And this morning, this Saturday morning instead of sleeping in, I got up for 7 am yoga class. In an abbreviated morning routine, I made my tea and took it with me. I saged myself and trekked out in the dark, cool morning to the gym. Since I was the first one there I turned on the heat, set up my mat, and waited. I know the yoga instructor and the other people who come to class, so I quickly realized there was no class today. However, I led myself through a 30 minute practice. Nearly four years of yoga practice from classes to trainings and I am not confident I have ever led my self (seriously) in practice. Even as a children’s yoga teacher, those routines are pretty much committed to memory, so muscle memory auto pilot.

It is almost one in the afternoon, more than six hours since my day started. I never did finish my tea, it is sitting right here at my feet. I cleaned up the kitchen, tidied up the house, made and consumed a matcha smoothie bowl. I think I have been writing this post for like four hours because I got distracted by Facebook Messenger and then Facebook and then email and then texts and then the internet. I would still like to read today (and reread some things and make notes), catch up on my Ayurveda training modules and homework, do some food prep and cooking for the week, work prep, Netflix, rest(ore), and shower – I should probably shower today, sometime soonish.

The point is my weekend is two days. There are so many hours in those two days. I may do all of those things or some or none. I may devise new or different things to do. I may decide I need some fresh air or I may very well stay cooped up. I may socialize or be a hermit. Who knows?

But my laptop is at 6% so seems like a good time to recharge it, take a shower and nourish my body with lunch . . .

keep you posted . . .

hopefully as I intend to blog more regularly . . .

or rather incrementally.

happy birthday to me

Just after midnight, but still nearly 14 hours before my officially birth time – on the other side of the world, because it’s not even January 14th some wheres.

If 365 days ago someone had told me half of what happened in my life in 2017 was going to happen, truthfully I would never have believed it. And 365 days from now when I reflect back on 2018, I cannot wait to see how life has yet again surprised, defied, and molded me.

Last year I learned that absolutely anything, literally anything, is possible. That my plans are nothing more than seeds that life actually uses to manifest my dreams, hopes, desires, fears, and all. That failing to plan is sometimes the best fucking idea ever. That while hoping for the best is awesome and all, expect the worse and leave room for less disappointment. That when you least expect it and without notice the people who genuinely love and care for you will show up – hugely. That family and love are not always predetermined at birth or by blood – that I only navigate this thing called life solo if I choose to, however I do not have to. That opportunities are limitless and I have just begun to scratch the surface.

2017 had epically broad strokes, with everything from emergency hospital admittance to relocating overseas and everything in between from pulling off New Zealand in less than a month to welcoming a new niece in those final few weeks. I feel like I learned so much in just a year. Just a year, 365 days of conceivably almost every kind of high and low imaginable – that I survived and thrived off of nevertheless.

This is always my official new start, when my new year begins, January 14. 42 I have no idea what you have in store for me. Per usual, I have some ideas. Some are far fetched perhaps, many are reoccurring wishes, while others are fresh and most will likely happen with or without my acquiescence.

Thank you 2017 for lots of fundamentals and foundation.

2018 let’s cultivate the fuck of ‘em!

sheer exhaustion

I am currently trying to convince myself not to eat ice cream or chocolate pudding for dinner at 5:30 PM and then pass out in my bed. There are a wide variety of things I could be doing from personal to professional, yet even as I type this (as part of my reignited commitment to write daily) I am fighting to keep my eyelids from slamming shut. I could surmise that my limited sleep this weekend is catching up with me, but everyone is exhausted. Sheer exhaustion from the demands of life currently. And the demands of attempting to maintain some semblance of a life within that. Trying to
“balance” work and play, responsibility and recreation. The precipice of not shirking what is necessary for necessity. How to get those things done without compromising the things we need to do, without losing ourselves in the process. Keeping our spaces clean and livable, eating healthfully, exercise routines, mental health intervals, physical satisfactions, quality time with loved ones . . . – I could go on and on. Yet all of this is difficult, challenging at best and damn near impossible when you are too tired to do or think about little else than crawling into your bed or passing out on the couch as soon as you cross the threshold of your home.

What is the solution? Is there an answer to this quandary? Or perhaps is it as simple as The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck, both literally and figuratively and even perhaps not so subtly. Unsure, but it is definitely on my holiday read list so I will keep you posted

getaway

Just returning from a weekend getaway, before I check an email or Facebook or even my bank account balances, I need to get things off my chest. Actually, I need to get things off my chest more often than not lately, nonetheless I have not been doing so (as evident by my 54 day absence) and that does not serve anybody well – nobody. When I decided to relocate, I was not just leaving my job. I left my life. I left my family. I left my friends. I left my mental health care professional. I left my physicians. I left my yoga teachers and yogis of color. I left my I left my ‘hood, my city. I left my alumni association. I left my comforts. I left the infinite, immeasurable systems that support me as a woman and person of color.

As life and its lessons would have it, we sometimes have to leave things behind us to see what is in front of us. To discover what we are made of and what things our life holds for us if we have the courage to move outside of our comfort zones. To negate the “what are you running away from” instead to “what am I running towards”.

This is not what I imagined, not even what I thought. It is not my Atlanta experience, depression – but it ain’t Chicago either. Chicago is turning out to be a lover I admired from afar too long, finally got the courage to make the moves, and then got tired of waiting for a commitment . . . I digress. And in the midst of the disappointment. instead of working out/taking my supplements/eating clean, I am stressing out (and stress eating – crap). Instead of blogging, I am silenced, feeling as if what I want to or may say would have repercussions. Instead of emotional release in creating art, my energies are drained to the point of exhaustion and wasted time. Instead of practicing my magick, I am forgetting my way.

Excuse after excuse after excuses to the point where I am doing nearly nothing in my best interest. However after this weekend, I realize 19 months is a long ass time to suffer in silence and not in my best interest. Rather than wait until two weeks from now for my detox vacation, I am starting now and letting all that shit go. I do not recall ever apologizing for being myself, so no time for that kind of bullshittery now. No more waiting until or for this and that. If I am going to be up late nights or losing sleep or waking early, it needs to be to write or read or conjure or create or release.

My mom says you always have a plan A, B, C, D . . .

Not only survive this next 19 months, but nineteen months from now I had better have a damn good reason for why I decided to get away.

at the bus stop

Whatever did we do before technology, as I blog this while waiting for my bus that I just realized will be another 30 minutes. Which had I realized early, I could have walked a little further to the Express Bus stop (that just drove past) however, I am carrying a 13.5 pound box and so I likely wouldn’t have done that anyway. I am also not sure I have the energy for that at this point since I have been called – more accurately yelled at from across the street – a nigger by a young Korean boy leaving school for the day. After which shortly thereafter I was greeted by an older Korean woman who then proceeded to violate my personal space by touching my hair. However, I am literally too exhausted to genuinely give a shit at this point and am simply trying not to explode into tears before I get behind my closed door.

As of today, I am officially emotionally overwhelmed. I have reached the precipice of my patience, pliability, and peace. Although I may have had no idea of what I was signing up for, I do not know what I did not and this ain’t it. I looked up homesick, however I am not confident that is it because I have no desire to go back there. I am committed to commitment, so 20 months to forge ahead. I am overflowing with questions, bursting at the seams, with seemingly absolutely no answers in sight – not a damn one.

So perhaps that falls under the umbrella of “what I signed up for” (or rather has fallen atop the umbrella crushing it to bits, unrecognizable) in life lessons. Perhaps this is part of the “what’s going to be different” category – same shit, different day or same shit, different me?

As of today, right now in this moment (in this past week), I have failed miserably. Although I would like to give myself a pass on account of what I have just had to deal with (see paragraph one), I will not since it’s not new shit, perhaps it can be the catalyst for new me.

(If you’re curious how in the world and/or why would I know the N word in Korean?! I looked it up on Google Translate. So I will just leave that there and as I delete it from my phone, pray for non racist translation tool references)

ever grateful

I have been having some moments lately – too many – in which I completely forget. Forget what an amazingness my life is right now and that I should – need to – remember what a blessing it is right now. Thus, I am making list of things I am grateful for, to remind myself . . .

  • live on an island, that most people have never heard of
  • in a part of the world I have never explored
  •  surrounded by nature, beauty
  • immigrant/expat
  • exposure to new language and culture
  • amazing food
  • brand new apartment, fully furnished, rent free
  • amazingly comfortable bed
  • sunroom/floor to ceiling windows
  • founding faculty member
  • brand new(ly) constructed school
  • small class sizes
  • good natured and energied colleagues/meeting new people
  • MacBook Pro
  • found my people
  • world class workout facilities right across from where I live (no excuses)
  • hustle free living
  • time to simply do me
  • new life experiences and opportunities
  • to be continued . . .

morning flow

I am anxiously obsessed about establishing a consistent morning routine. I know that the way I start my day is everything and I truly desire to strive on being my best self by putting some things into practice, like more self care. The tension between hitting the ground running and taking time to ease into the day is literally mind numbing.

It begins with the snoozing or stopping of the alarm. Since it is my phone, I am compelled to check notifications or texts or email, so I suppose for starters I should get an alarm clock (just thought of that). Once that ball gets rolling, I want to clear out my inbox, respond to things, check the weather, etc., then before you know it, anywhere from 15- 60 mins can pass by. Now add to that if I have thought of something to blog about because I want to jump on my laptop and get to writing. My concern with all these things is plugging in too quickly and what kind of foundation or intention am I setting for the day?

This morning in an effort to switch it up and try to avoid flourescent light (and artificial air), I started by opening the patio door and curtains allowing fresh air, nature sounds, and natural light to peek into the room. I lit a candle when I went to use the bathroom and also decided to do a honey and oat facial mask. I returned to bed to let it marinate and after 10 minutes took a shower with my basil candle in there, so that is something else I am going to throw into the morning routine mix. After my shower, moisturized as usual and by now the sun’s rising was beginning to peak a little more light into the room. I lit my peppermint candle and had a bagel for breakfast.

Once I was finished with that, I put on a millennial soul playlist, opened the laptop and started writing. I was able to focus for the most part until my travel blog post (https://rootlessandrudderless.wordpress.com) was complete. Then I cleared out my email, checked out my Facebook and Instagram, downloaded some things, messaged several people, thought about the rest of my day, solved some things and then began writing this post.

It is now about six since I started my day and I am feeling okay about it. I do not move into my permanent residence for like another 48 hours, so I am in a hotel until then, however in my head I imagine a daily cup of hot tea, meditation, and sun salutations perhaps to get my day initiated. I hope to ground myself and set an intention. Check in with my oracle and tarot cards. Have a wholesome, healthful breakfast. All before I give a care about anything else happening in the world around me, center me first.

I could have probably focused better today, yet not having anywhere to be and nothing particular to do has likely contributed to my ease, not to mention I have been on vacation for nearly four months! So, my schedule is essentially all off. Perhaps the ideal time to set a new way of doing things and establish the routines I want in place moving forward. Now this is not necessarily a new concept, but I am spurred by my current lifestyle revision of overseas relocation. I am also hoping that the ways of life I observe and learn from my South Korean experience will also influence my lifestyle changes for the better.

 Launch

narrative annihilation

Once I left Chicago, there were only two people of African descent on the plane – including myself, it was like first grade all over again when it was just Alicia Newkirk and me. Then, for reasons unbeknownst and in poor choice, they split us up in second grade. That year was the first time in my young eight year life that I was referred to as a nigger – never heard the word and did not know what it was. I do not know if there was any correlation, but I do know since landing in Seoul, I am the only person of African descent currently, as far as I can tell.

There is nothing new about that, not the first time and likely will not be the last. I am not the only person of African descent that was hired at my current school and everyone will be here by Sunday. There are like five other schools in Edu City, however they could be very much lacking in the diversity department. Nevertheless, that is neither the issue, nor the part that bothers me, it is the narrative created by European Americans that fuels my rage. Like the one that labels and classifies humans by “race” or “color” which in itself is a social construct, as well as a means to wield power, encourage divisiveness and perpetuate racism. Thus, I no longer refer to myself as Black – I am not a damn color (which sucks with the whole black girl magic and black boy joy movements, unless I reclaim the word – ugh), so I will not be reduced or defined as such, or African American because I do not feel at home in a place that unapologetically terrorizes my people and people of color, nor do I have to. Thus, other than person of African descent, I have no idea what to reference myself as, other than Kamisha – hence perhaps is the only way we should be identifying and labeling people, by their given or chosen descriptor. Although I do sometimes use colored or Negro just to get a rise out of people and make them uncomfortable. Plus, let me not even get started on that bogus “minority” label nonsense.

Although I have left behind the US for now and its current fucked up state of a union, unfortunately I know I am followed by the narrative that European Americans have created about my people and me around the world in a misguided attempt for world domination or something, I have no clue. There are not only a litany of stereotypes about us, but a history of epic injustices and repercussions that are the foundation for most, if not all of them – know your verifiable history and facts! It is both debilitating and sickening at the same time, especially in light of the reignited hate sweeping across the country and globe caused by ignorance and miseducation. So while there are parts of the stereotypical narrative that may be part of my life and story, they are not the sum of who I am nor indicators of my conclusion. And those are the parts where I have to remind people, there and abroad, do not have me fucked up. I am currently more team Malcolm than Martin and Turner than Parks.

I remind people even though I may have been born to a single mother and I know exactly what government assistance is, I was raised in a two parent home and also know exactly what a 401K and IRA are, because I have them. The privilege of being raised in a multicultural, multiethnic, multi religious, socioeconomically diverse community that enabled me to experience life and learning about others for my formative years of 7 through 18 years old; because after that little girl called me a nigger, we moved expeditiously from where I was to where the minority was the majority – shouts out to Piscataway, New Jersey. The opportunity because through my home, church, and school life I was taught to code switch, I chose a Historically Black College and University, Florida A&M University, over a predominantly white one since I needed to continue learning more about and creating my own narrative. And even though it took me 35 years to obtain my passport, I am making up for lost time traveling as extensively as possible, including solo and relocating out of the country.

All of these things set the stage for the provoked pride and preservation of my culture initiated by the lies and rhetoric of the European immigrants that stole the Americas (and shit tons of other places) from people of color – because if you did not realize that if a place is already inhabited and then someone comes and takes possession (particularly by force), that is known as theft, not discovery nor founding. Thus the unapologetic pride, defense, celebration, and/or preservation of such things as genocide, enslavement, hate, discrimination will no longer be tolerated or excused quietly by me. The past election cycle and current events continue to embolden and invigorate my lack apology on this stance.

For instances, my natural hairstyles have been elevated to express my African hair heritage to new levels beyond simply embracing my natural hair pattern. In the past year, my inspirations have been color, braids, twists and styles that not only express my individuality, but the diversity of exactly all that this good, magical hair possesses. Likewise, all my t-shirts reference people of African descent created by and in support of businesses of people of African descent. I currently search high and low for everything and anything people of color around the world create, from underwear to accessories because I am discovering, we do create and make everything! If I can replace everything I have with products from people of color, that will be quite an accomplishment. Ultimately, this period of time has also piqued my interest in history. The history of people of color as told by them, in truth – their perspectives, their stories – from around the globe is fascinating. I did not learn it during my formal education and it is not being taught now, hence the responsibility falls on me to learn and study the truth that I now believe is more imperative than ever and essential to my personal awakening, as well as setting the course for my future endeavors.

Assimilation and majority my ass. I have no desire whatsoever to embrace, model, or replicate the lifestyles, examples or ideals of Europeans or Europeans Americans – they are not my muse. I am the descendant of an inventive, original, flourishing, magical people who originated on the continent of Africa. Furthermore, as the hope and dream of the (en)slave(d), I also possess the legacy of survivors and all it encompasses to endure kidnapping, the middle passage, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and 2016 through 2020 – just to name a few. As such, there is much work to be done – more stereotypes to debunk, more facts to be discovered, and more reeducation to be disclosed. Whether here, there, or anywhere, I am committed to this comprehensively and without apology.

Moreover, I am now more than ever committed to setting foot on the continent where I am surrounded by people who look like me.