I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.
Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.
See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.
But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.
Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.
I am currently in another transitional phase in my life. Hence, why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Children graduating, seasons changing and children preparing to begin their school career. But amidst all of that change (because change happens regardless) you can steer it in a way. There is a way to direct some of the changes with a chance to reduce the amount of ‘pains’ associated with growth.
We all have those moments where we wake up one day and our inner being is screaming that something has to change! It’s during those moments that we have to stop and listen to what else our inner being is telling us. Chances are, our inner self has been speaking to us for a while and we were just too busy being busy to notice.
It was during one of these moments that I had to stop and listen because I was on the verge of screaming at the top of my lungs and snapping on my co-workers at my day job. I didn’t like that feeling at all. I listened to what my inner being was saying and discovered that I absolutely hated going to work; not because the job sucked, but because the politics at the job sucked – bad.
My inner self screamed at me to GET OUT!!!! I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve heard enough reviews to know that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We all have those moments at the day job where we want to walk out of the door and not come back but the responsibility of bills and families (for those of us who have them) weighed down on us. I evaluated my interests and came up with three ways to foster change in my life, became a notary public and quit my day job.
- Assess Your Interests – Make a list of the things or areas you are interested in. What do you enjoy doing (outside of watching t.v. or playing video games)? Write down 5-7 areas that you are interested in. Write down why you are interested in each of those areas. Ask yourself whether you would be able to participate in this interest for the next 20 years without being financially rewarded and still enjoy it.
- Assess Your Skills – Pull out your most recent resume. When did you last update it? Have you acquired any new skills? Have you improved any of your current skills? Are there any skills you need to acquire or that you are interested in? Research where you can improve your skills.
- Decide on a Path to Pursue – Go back over your lists. Cross out the ones that don’t make you feel anything. Focus on the ones that light you up inside.
Which interest makes your heart soar? Gives you goosebumps? Most likely those are the ones you should focus on. By taking steps toward your interest there will be a lighter feeling to your day and a twinge of stomach flutters as you realize that you are in control of your hearts’ desires. Make a decision about what you want in your life and go for it, you deserve it!
Using these ideas I have recently become a notary public because I truly enjoy helping others. What dreams have you chased and caught or are currently chasing? Comment below.
I found one of my notebooks in my desk at work today (I have several notebooks stashed in various locations at home and at work). Looking through that notebook I discovered some of my poems that were written about six months ago.
Talk about surprise. I am caught off guard sometimes when I re-read my work because the intensity of my poetry is amazing. But alas, it is my poetry, right? This one particular poem, Imperfection Perfection, is one of those poems…
Staring at my reflection
at the results of bearing life
stretch marks gracefully swim
across my abdomen in waves
of caramel kisses.
The low slope of my breasts
reflect the nourishment
I provide for all who came forth
from my body.
My body is imperfectly perfect
in it’s own way
loving me as I love it…
– Why Yet 11/29/16
I just finished reading Mini Habits For Resilience by Tom Meitner on my way to my day job. He breaks down little ways we can develop a stronger resilience in our daily lives. I came across Tom’s book accidentally while searching for free books I could download for my children. (In case you are new to reading my words I am a word nerd, book nerd, however you’d like to describe it – I love books).
In life we tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else, especially when we fail to reach a goal we’ve set for ourselves. This book shed light on the truth of how set backs can effect our view of ourselves and our abilities. Tom also offered ways to build resilience so setbacks aren’t as devastating to our sense of ability and accomplishment.
I think everyone should read at least one self-help book a year to improve in an area of life you may feel needs sprucing up…
Too many times I have encountered individuals who behave as though only they have a right to exist on this planet. As big as this rock is… really? I can’t say I’m surprised with 45 fueling the flames. But I was inspired by the words I’ve been reading on here tonight. I wrote this poem, Black Without Apology, as an in your face call out to those who are closed-minded about anyone who is different:
Does my skin offend you?
Has my DNA mocked you?
Has my resilience taunted your very existence, pushing you to hate me?
Does my intelligence frighten
the very idea of your
subsistence on the degradation of my genetic make-up?
I guess nightmares and dreamscapes of terror
encourage you to intake artificial courage
to defile the image of my being
solely because you can’t bear
your child-mind of feeling inferior,
that gestating seed of uncertainty
that gnaws at your immorality
while you justify your (lack of) humanity
to your brotherhood of nonsensical brethren…
But I digress…
Your inability to come to terms with your ideas of the world
belong to YOU.
I am my melanated self because I am
and always will be
Black without apology.
– Why Yet 4/3/17
I am learning to recognize when my life is in transition. You know those moments in life that you don’t realize you’re moving from one phase of life into another until after it happens? I get glimpses of those phases when I quiet my mind enough to hear the whisperings of my spirit.
My moments are unique to me. When I begin to feel suffocated in life (with my job, family, obligations) I know there is change brewing within. When the ‘adults’ around me irritate me with their childish behavior, I know there is change stirring up inside of me. Many times I have found myself feeling restless and unable to maintain my thoughts on singular ideas. When my mental space is crowded, I know it is that time of transition.
Learning to recognize my signs for life transitioning is important. Once I started noticing the signs I remember to be more mindful of my thoughts, words and actions. I can also be more deliberate with my thoughts, words and actions. That is a powerful feeling. To be deliberate with the thoughts I choose to focus on, deliberate with the words I choose to speak. To be deliberate with my actions that choose to (or choose not to) partake in.
That is power. Power over myself. That feels strong. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue…” I heard that said at a Mary Kay convention in 2004 and it is so true.
You ever have one of those days where you want to check out of adulthood and go back to childhood? Today was one of those days for me. But I started thinking about what I could do differently, given the chance to advise my younger self. So I created this of seven things I would tell my younger self.
- Trust your gut. Your instinct will keep you alive because it’s the universe sending you signals. Trust the vibe the universe sends your way. Your gut instinct will direct you to (or away from) anything meant to help (or harm) you.
- Laugh often. Laughter is healthy. Your laugh is unique to you, when you relax and be yourself.
- You ARE beautiful. Hurt people hurt people. You can’t stop them from hurting, only they can decide when they’ve been hurt enough. Don’t allow anyone to dampen your shine.
- Being intelligent is good. Having a love for learning and wanting more knowledge is not a bad thing to be punished for. Wanting to understand the world around you is the most beautiful thing. Keep learning.
- Don’t give up. For anything that sparks your soul and gives you joy, hold on to it!
- Get plenty of rest. You can’t enjoy life if you’re exhausted. Let tomorrow’s worries care for themselves… I’ve read that somewhere and it makes sense.
- When you discover your true love, hold on with all of your might. It’s not often that people connect on multiple levels in a synchrony that mimics a musical dance, so when you do – make the most memories for as long as you can…
If you could go back and advise your younger self, what would you say?