Butts, Farts & Raising Boys

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The first thing people always say about my children is how beautiful they are – and its true! They’re adorable. My ex-husband is white, specifically Dutch and some stuff, and I’m black, specifically pan-African with a hint of western Europe and dash of South Asia, so our kids have an incredible presentation of genes. They each have different colors and textures of hair, and they each have a different eye-color, one green, one brown, one blue. And yes, all the same father, please don’t even go there with your judging mom-shaming purity-policing conditioning culture.

The first is PARENT. The verb. As in parenting.

After people tell me how handsome my kids are, they talk about how well-behaved, kind and cooperative they are. People always ask me what’s the secret! So here’s a quick list of some of the things I consistently do as a parent:

+PARENT

The first is PARENT. The verb. As in parenting. As in I am RAISING children to be secure, independent, members of society – I am responsible for sending thoughtful, compassionate, MEN into the world to thrive and find a place where their talents serve their community. I am shaping their behavior. I’m nurturing a tiny seed to have strong healthy roots, giving it what it needs to continue to flourish and provide for itself outside of my greenhouse.

I am RAISING children to be secure, independent, members of society – I am responsible for sending thoughtful, compassionate, MEN into the world to thrive and find a place where their talents serve their community. I am shaping their behavior.

+SHAPING BEHAVIOR

So what does shaping behavior look like? First of all, I have to talk about my pet peeves: tangled hangers. Answering questions with questions. Unnecessary defensiveness. Parents of ill-mannered children that blame it on kids being kids.

Here’s my disclaimer: DISCLAIMER: I’m focusing on your average well-child. I am not including children whose brains fit somewhere on the autism spectrum or any child diagnosed with another major developmental, neurological or psychological abnormality or delay. I’m talking about your generally mentally healthy child.

Ok, so parents of ill-mannered children that blame it on kids being kids is a pet peeve of mine. That’s why they have us – it’s our job to show and tell them how to behave and in what setting. Now it doesn’t mean that kids should be seen and not heard – it means we have to guide them, lovingly and attentively how to control their voices, their bodies and their emotions, and if that is beyond their control in that moment, that’s when you take them aside and give them space to scream, run, or have a total meltdown. It’s about CONTEXT – giving them space and security to be themselves, according to the context. We are parents – it’s our job to shape their behavior.

We’re in this together and we can have fun, but we need to all do our part if we’re going to make it through this adventure together.

If you don’t know this about me, I’m a big huge fan of using “I statements” and talking about my life – from my perspective. I try not to generalize or teach or dictate; I like to share – this is me and my story, this is what works for me. Leading up to this show, someone asked me, “Oh, are you talking about raising men from a man’s perspective or a woman’s?” And I said, “Um, neither. This is my experience and sharing what works for me.” I will never say women be like or men be like – I’m going to say, “Octavia be like…” and if it finds value in your heart, so be it. If it doesn’t, carry on.

So, in the realm of BEHAVIOR SHAPING, here’s what I do:

  • Face-level instructions
    • I get in their faces, at eye level either on my knees or all of us on chairs or a couch…and I explain what’s going on.
    • Our home culture is like we’re a team and I’m the captain – we’re in this together and we can have fun, but we need to all do our part if we’re going to make it through this adventure together.
    • I have only asked my kids to act like adults ONCE that I can remember, and I prepped them for it ahead of time. I told them I know they’ll think this [event] is boring, they’ll want to run around and scream and play, but just for 30 minutes, I need them to act like grown-ups, just in this setting, for this amount of time.
    • It empowers them, sets up expectations and lets them know how long they need to put on a grown-up hat. I also think this empowers them to feel important in their own way, like they’re tasked with a really important, temporary, job.
    • I avoid words like “obey” and “obedient” and instead I use words like “cooperate” and “participate.”
    • I invite them to join me in doing this thing…

I avoid words like “obey” and “obedient” and instead I use words like “cooperate” and “participate.”

  • Repetition there are two kinds of repetition here
    • The first connects to what I just mentioned – face-level instructions: I have the kids repeat what I said back to me, so I know they received the message I just sent in the way I meant for it to be received. We’re going to go to the store, you’re not going to ask me for Pokemon cards. What are you not going to do today? Ask for Pokemon cards.
    • The second is I will never say anything only once. The sooner I realized that, the more rapidly my anxiety dropped. I will never say anything just once – TO THE SAME CHILD. Ryan, do you have your lunch? Yes. Ryan, do you have your lunch? Yes. Ryan, do you have your lunch? No. Ok, go get it. Ryan, go get your lunch.
  • No is not a bad word. My children need to hear the word no, and understand that no has value. There doesn’t need to be a why or rationalization or negotiation. I said no.
  • Give emphatic Yeses. I am hyper-conscious to give more yeses than I give nos. they’re both important and powerful words.

+Affirming Personalities & Unconditional Acceptance

Reminding my children that they have unique thoughts, opinions and decision-making skills and then affirming their judgement is a major factor in nurturing their autonomy and confidence. I use a ton of phrases like:

  • Figure it out! – and then applaud them for what they figure out
  • What do you think? – and then affirm their thoughts and let them lead if it really is a sound choice (Hey that’s a great idea! Let’s do that)
  • Try it and see what happens – I love this one because it empowers them to take a risk and make adjustments if it failed, slowly desensitizing the fear of failure
  • What do you like? – and then affirm their choices…
    • PSA: THIS INCLUDES DEFYING GENDER ROLES – if my children want to paint their nails, play in wigs, makeup and skirts, or dresses (and sometimes they do), they can, with my emphatic support.

I put myself in timeout more than the kids.

+Planting Compassion

This one is kind of hard to do – because my boys don’t see a lot of masculine tenderness. There’s no male role model in my home and I have no idea what their dad does at his home – I only know how he was when we were married. So this is a tough one for me to teach, but here’s how I do it. If one of the boys is hurt, I model that compassion – even though I’m not a man, I hope some of the routine will stay with them.

  • I first assess them like the first responder that is deep within me: Are you hurt? Tell me what happened.
  • Then I acknowledge their pain. Wow that must have really made you feel bad – or that must have really hurt – or stung.
  • Then I hold them. Do you want a hug? Ok.
  • If the conflict is between each other, I’ll guide them through the process as peers: Look at your brother. How would you feel if the same thing happened to you? What would make you feel better? Why don’t you ask him how you can help him feel better? Ok, now do that thing, just like he asked.

+Growing Communication Skills

Ok, this touches on some of my pet peeves again: when people avoid, deflect or circumnavigate a direct question, answer a question with a question, or don’t ask the proper question needed to get the answers they need. Since these behaviors in adults bother the heck out of me, the only way I can fight this major evil is by training my children to not be those adults when they grow up. Hey control what you can, right? This is hopefully just one part of a legacy of communication development that will be passed down for generations!

  • Answering questions directly. Answer the question that was asked, not what you think the other person might actually be asking. This, I am guessing, is a learned behavior when you’re afraid of being in trouble, and/or constantly adapting to anticipate a passive aggressive person’s intent. In this case, I give them the opportunity to answer the question I asked. Here are some ways my children have recently responded to my questions:
    • Where’s your phone?
      • I wasn’t on it! // That’s not what I asked. // It’s on my bed.
    • Did you finish all your schoolwork?
      • My battery died. // That’s not what I asked. // No, but I will when my battery charges.
  • Asking questions. When I teach my kids to ask questions, I teach them to first think about what they want to know, learn or gain from the question. Ask for what you want. Here are some examples:
    • Are we going to target? // No. // Oh, I wanted a toy. // Then ask: Mom, I want to get a new toy; can we go to Target? // No. The answer is still No, but your end goal is the toy; not Target.

+Conflict Resolution

I don’t love being Referee Mom all the time, but when there is an actual disagreement (not just irritability and whining), I really get excited about this teaching moment. I have pulled a lot of these tips from watching Dr. Phil mediate circular arguments between toxic spouses and from watching Nanny 911/Super Nanny mitigating the most chaotic of households. I also get the role playing from my mom. Some of my best comebacks and bold statements I ever said as a kid were from my mom practicing an actual script with me at home.

  • Stay in the present.
    • Steve is always starting the game before I can log in! // What precisely just happened? I don’t want to hear about always or yesterday or last week – why are you upset now?
  • Use I statements.
    • Reminding the boys to tell me their own story helps turn down the blame and identify what part of the problem they can control themselves, ultimately helping them self-soothe.
  • Role play.
    • GIMME THAT CORD. // No, try again – Hey Ryan, my phone is dying, can I have the cord back I let you use? And then wait for his response.
    • I’ll ask them to repeat the whole scene until they’re giggling and learning new language in healthy communication.

+Naming emotions

Emotions are meant to be felt. All emotions are good emotions. All emotions are for all people. I am always repeating this for the kids. I want them to crow into men that can feel, name those feelings without shame, express those feelings clearly without fear, and be present with other people’s emotions as well.

I’m highly intuitive and frequently feel a shift in my boys’ emotions before they even know how to use words to describe their feelings. I’m proactive in this way, but I still ask them to try and name what they’re feeling. I never try to cheer them up when they’re sad. I let them be sad. I make room for their feelings and invite them to take breaks until they feel differently.

Because children are young and learning, sometimes they don’t know what their feelings are called. They simply feel, without words. In this case, we have used a tool called SASHET (google it for some helpful graphics). SASHET stands for:

  • Scared
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Happy
  • Excited
  • Tender

We’ll talk about what these words mean, and they can pick which one is closest to what they’re feeling. Then we take it from there, which usually includes either long cuddles or loud silliness.

I give them space to be funny, because, come on, farts are funny! But after the giggle, move on. If they can’t, that’s when I send them to the bathroom to spend quality time with their own butts and farts in privacy.

+POTTY TALK!

Here it is finally – I said we’d be talking about butts and farts.

They talk about butts and farts all day every day, any chance they get to say it, they say it. Penis. Weenis. Booty hole. Poops. Turds. All the things. All the smelly things.

I love bathroom humor as much as the next guy, but it is my job to tell them when the joke is old.

I give them space to be funny, because, come on, farts are funny! But after the giggle, move on. If they can’t, that’s when I send them to the bathroom to spend quality time with their own butts and farts in privacy.

+OWNING AND COMMUNICATING MY EMOTIONS as a parent

I put myself in timeout more than the kids – they know this!

Kids are kids and they’re gonna do kid stuff. And they’ll get loud. And messy. They’ll argue. They’ll break all your good shit. They’ll destroy things. They’ll lose things. They’ll exhaust the fuck out of you. And instead of losing my mind with them, I tell them:

Guys, I am tired. I’m getting frustrated because you’re not cooperating. I’m having a really difficult time. I’m going to go lay down and I don’t want to be interrupted. When I come back, let’s try this again, OK? OK.

And they know to leave me alone. They also know it’s not them – it’s not their fault – I’m not mad at them, I’m overwhelmed and tired. And I let them see I’m overwhelmed and tired. When I’m sad, I tell them I’m sad. If I need space I tell them I need space. When I want a hug, I ask for it. And they do the same.

So in conclusion

  • I give my kids room to be themselves
  • I don’t police them – I let them make thought-based decisions
  • I invite them to cooperate
  • I affirm their reasoning and make sure they feel safe and secure

And so far… they’re the darlingest of darlings, and even better-behaved when I’m not around.

-OR

Re-LEASE Me

Listen to this blog article as a podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This episode compares relationship types to housing. What kind of relationship tenant are you?

I defined relationship tenants into A, B, C and D:

A) Open House – ok, we can call these the Players – these are the individuals that want to walk through everything on the market with no intention to place an offer – they just want to always keep all options open. They want to see all the rooms, touch all the door knobs and taste all the appetizers.

The next two types I put into the same group: Renters

B) Leasing Renters – these tenants prefer long-term relationships but always move around the same time; your serial 1-2 year relationships and then get bored and move on.

C) Month to Month Renters – these tenants take everything one day-month at a time. These tenants are content and love their situation. Things are great…until they aren’t.

And finally, your traditionalists…the ones looking for the ring and the church bells…

D) Investors – these are your traditional contract-seeking lifers. They want to spend time seeking out the best match for them and make the one-time decision and legacy for the good, the bad, the gutting and the rehabbing.

It’s crucial to know which type you are. Here’s a hilarious article describing the poster-child for Type B tenants: Woman Against Meaningless One-Night Stands Prefers Meaningless Tow-Year Relationships.

I’m proud of my type: I’m a C — a “month-to-month!”

Why am I a month-to-month renter? Because after one marriage, two engagements and tens- maybe hundreds of dates – the only consistent thing I’ve learned is that people are unpredictable. The way people behave in seasons – not just seasons of the year, but also seasons of life, varies. You also have to consider their own upbringing, their unique concepts of “normal,” their communication habits and emotional trauma, wounds, mental illness up to and including behavioral disorders. It’s a lot.

I already did the one-time investment and it backfired. We had completely opposing views of what we wanted our family culture to be, assumed what we each clung to in our individual heads as “normal,” unaware of the incompatibility with the other’s “normal,” and that grew into resentment. We were both miserable and there’s no reason to feel imprisoned and undervalued at home.

So here’s what I learned from nearly a decade of miscommunication and frustrating incompatibility: you have to choose someone – emphatically, passionately, eagerly – every day.

I look at month to month commitment kind of like alcoholics anonymous approach sobriety. You don’t jump into an addiction cessation program saying, starting today I’m never going to touch this thing ever again forever and ever amen! No, you take it one day at a time.

You say, ok I’m going to make it one hour without indulging in this vice...

Ok, wow it’s been three hours. Ok, I’m going to make it for the rest of the day.

And then you celebrate that day.

And then the next day.

And the next.

Sometimes you need help – a sponsor, an accountability partner, a counselor or therapist – same thing. It’s work, and it’s a daily choice to put in that work, passionately, emphatically, and eagerly. I want to chose someone every day the way a former-addict chooses sobriety every day.

I found a lovely poem about this in a recovered-addict’s blog:

YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW

There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.

One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.

TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.

This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.

It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.

Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.

This is exactly how I feel about relationships. This is why I say I’m month-to-month. But when I’m with someone, I’m really and truly with them, no matter what. I’m monogamish, too but that’s another conversation.

…Ok, never mind, I’ll touch on it now just to satiate your curiosity – I’m open in the way that Will and Jada talk about being open – the only “cheating” in my opinion is deceit. I’ll never expect a partner to never feel romantic attraction or want to indulge in romantic attraction to anyone else – I’m not insecure or intimidated by it. Just don’t lie to me and don’t deceive me – everything is worth a conversation. And yes, I would require that to go both ways – for me, too – but if nearly all of my needs are met by my partner, I tend to be monogamous and have no desire to act on my attraction to others. So… that’s why I say, monogamISH. Like – unlimited hall-passes if you want to cash them in, but no judgment for considering.

So, here’s the full Octavian picture: I’m a in-the-moment, month-to-month, monogamish, secure attachment-type.

Now with all this independent, secure, one-day-at-a-time talk, I want to emphasize none of this means I’m anti-marriage. In my personal case, it just means I don’t have to have marriage; I don’t need a legal union to feel official or to seal my partnership. I’m also not the kind of person that fixates on a relationship direction or asks the “where is this going?” type of questions.

Octavia Reese Road to Relovery

If we’ve already established that we’re a couple, then we’re a couple. Period. I’m with you, and I’ll be with you until we decide otherwise.

The ceremony or paperwork of matrimony doesn’t stop people from leaving you it doesn’t stop people from changing their mind about you.

It doesn’t force people to love you forever. It’s not some magic wand of instant trust and faithfulness.

People will leave when they’re ready to leave. People will betray you when they’re over you. People will hurt you and the concept of marriage doesn’t prevent that. So for me, I don’t need marriage. I don’t hate it. I think people abuse the idea of marriage — it’s not a fix-all. When the idea of marriage becomes the goal, it can detract from the intentional and deliberate work of passionately choosing your partner every single day.

You can’t change yesterday. You can’t predict tomorrow. Be present. With me. Choose me. Today. One day at a time.

You can’t change yesterday. You can’t predict tomorrow. Be present. With me. Choose me. Today. One day at a time.

@roadtorelovery

When I’m with someone, I’m really and truly with them, present and committed in each day. I don’t need a contract for that.

Now, I want to address how the type of tenant you are can cause issues in your relationship:

  1. If you don’t know what type of tenant you are…

Ok giant red flag. If you don’t know what type of tenant you are, then you’re going to have expectations you don’t understand, which will set both you and your partner up for failure. You won’t know what you want, so you won’t know what to ask for, and you’ll have unmet expectations, which is the perfect recipe for resentment and disappointment – and guess who’s going to get the sharp end of that stick? Yeah, your partner. You’re going to be cranky and irritable and you don’t know why. Or you’ll be unfaithful and disinterested and that will make you both feel like shit.

So what should you do? Figure it out! Take more time alone and studying what type of person you are. Write down a detailed description of your perfect relationship, without worrying about what other people say or think that relationship should be. You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some.

You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some.

@roadtorelovery
  1. If you are ashamed of what type of tenant you are.

Ok, this ties into the previous one, so I’ll repeat what I just said a minute ago: You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some. There’s nothing worse than being in a relationship with someone that is being dishonest with themselves.

And here’s the part where I blame the patriarchy and the western church: so many of us were raised with a set of norms that had been passed down from conservative, restrictive, woman-shaming sex-shaming purity culture dogma that we think there’s a universal right and wrong to what kind of relationship you want to cultivate and maintain. We see it in all kinds of places – people that feel shame in anything pleasurable – naming and accepting their sexual orientation, naming and accepting their kink and level of kink, or even enjoying sex period – dancing, drinking, indulging in anything human that feels good is equated to sinning and therefore bad. Don’t let this make you feel like your true desires are unacceptable. The more true you can be with yourself, the better it is for yourself and those in your close circle – especially your significant other.

  1. If you changed your mind about what type of tenant you are.

Now this isn’t a problem in itself. I was a D, did some A-ing and now I’m a solid C – but it was quite the journey for me to find the best language that felt like home for me to be able to confidently name the phases I went through. The problem I’m naming here is when you’ve shifted or evolved into a new tenant style but you’re being dishonest with yourself about your change or you’re afraid to have the conversation with your partner about your shift.

That’s why vulnerability is difficult –its risky. Its uncomfortable. But that’s also what its needed to make a good and lasting relationship work.

@roadtorelovery

There’s a HUGE amount of risk in being honest – and that one huge risk is rejection. No one wants to feel the stabbing pain of dismissal and heartache and disgust for being vulnerable. That’s why vulnerability is difficult –its risky. Its uncomfortable. But that’s also what its needed to make a good and lasting relationship work. Know yourself. Name your desires and your needs. Don’t settle.

Don’t for get to follow me on Facebook and Instagram and catch a live recording of the next episode of Road to Relovery.

Quarantine & Cake

Road to Relovery the podcast is BACK!

Octavia Reese Road to Relovery Podcast Tavinda Media

I was struggling with the vision for this show – rather, I had the vision, but the delivery wasn’t giving me that “this is right” gut feeling.

So I put a pin in it.

Since we’ve been instructed to practice social distancing and take self-isolation seriously, I’ve found great comfort in “going live” on my Facebook and Instagram feeds with a series simply called “Open Studio.” During this time, I would paint, play my cello, dance, do [adult] MadLibs – anything to keep things interesting and connected.

And then I decided, this feels good. This is that gut feeling I was looking for. It’s time to bring back Road to Relovery.

Today’s episode is called Quarantine & Cake and it began with me spiraling about my singleness. Long story short, I have been intentionally single and not-looking since 2017. I didn’t want to be bothered, distracted… or heartbroken anymore. So I gave it up!

And just when I decided to jump back in the ring, two things happened: someone I was finally interested in told me they weren’t ready to be in a relationship. Fine, I thought, we can just have fun. But when I checked in on them, hoping to plan some quality time together, they told me, “So… I’m seeing someone.”

Axe to my heart. Again.

But it was laughable really. And I decided to have fun with it. I wasn’t mad. I was definitely hurt and disappointed, but I wasn’t mad. All I want for everyone is their happiness. And if they met the person that can make them take the leap from “not being ready” to suddenly being “all-in,” then hell yeah! I’m celebrating their connection. This person and I still chat every now and then and I hope we continue to indulge a mutual enjoyment of each other’s company, with respect to, of course the new significant other.

Meanwhile, I’m still single. Groan.

And now there’s a Shelter In Place order, double groan, which eliminates all my bar-hopping, eyes-making contact with the public (only on my kid-free weekends).

And joking about it. I know. People find me attractive and impressive, but I’m still not datable. Maybe it’s because I’m too intimidating and I would take too much work, communication and planning. Maybe I’m just too difficult to date. Or maybe it’s the kids. Go back and listen to my first episode for my tirade on that one. Or maybe because I’m so comfortable with the people I’m interested in, my security may be mistaken for coldness – I don’t really do that false-intimacy infatuation thing. My jam consists of passionate flirting, open communication and emphatic reciprocation. Or maybe someone just doesn’t feel the magnetism I feel – which is perfectly acceptable, too. Whatever the reason, I’m laughing at my rejection to get through the misery.

And truly, it has been a blast.

Until I spiraled.

My friend asked a blanket question on social media checking in on the singles out there. I said, “Forgotten and neglected, but what else is new!”

Heh heh. Triple groan.

And then they said, “I don’t get it, it’s like no one wanting cake at a party.”

Quadruple groan. I’m lonely cake at the party of the century and no one wants to try me.

To hear the conclusion and resolution of my brief spiral, and my prayer for this global pandemic, listen to Episode 2: Quarantine & Cake on Tavinda Media.

And join me on my new Facebook and IG live recordings of the Road to Relovery podcast every Thursday night at 10pm CST.

Don’t Recover. Adapt.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok: @octaviaaivatco | @roadtorelovery

Xoxo, OR

S A N K O F A

I’m crossing into the next decade wrapped in the arms of SANKOFA — that go back and get it, your baggage made you amazing, your past is the seasoning to your future, can’t grow without roots feeling that I am who I am because of what I experienced — and that is a glorious empowering feeling. I’m embracing the last ten years and moved to tears about what the next ten have in store. I’ve got so many feels. So much to be grateful for. I have the best kids in the galaxy. I have the best friends in the universe. I am so fluffing excited and overflowing with love. Here’s a recap:

DAY WORK:

SLAYING. Best year ever. I have a growing positive reputation under new leadership, which is opening doors to meaningful shifts in my own career and for the future of our team. Plus I love saying that I work at one of the leading children’s hospitals in the country. Even though I don’t see patients, my work is meaningful and the cause is worthy.

LIFE WORK:

  • I started producing two new podcasts but lost motivation on one of them — detailed by an issue to be mentioned later.
  • I only published one new book this year when I intended to publish two or three. BUT I PUBLISHED ANOTHER BOOK!
  • I wrote and recorded a short film score.
  • I appeared in one film and two TV shows.
  • I started a new manuscript — thats three novels in the wings, not including The Hibouleans.
  • SEVERAL incredible book events from Detroit to Aurora and I was so honored to share a panel at Wakandacon with groundbreaking black SFF novelists.
  • I danced all over Chicago — Grant Park, cubbie bear, links hall and in both airports!
  • And I got to perform a few shows in Chicago and Michigan with an incredible band.

I have a few other ideas in the works to come out in 2020 😍😍😍

PERSONAL WINS:

I got a new bed! I had been sleeping on the same mattress I had since I was 16 🤣 I feel like a whole grown up now!

I went on an epic adventure — I’ve always been a spontaneous risk taker but because of LIFE I hadn’t left the country in 15 years. It was a profound shift in my self worth and manifesting my dreams.

I joined a new church community that is nurturing and affirming in all the ways I need right now with little Octavia-shaped spaces for me to serve the community too.

And Morrison DaVinci Coltrane Reese AKA MUPPET has joined our family!!!!

ROMANCE:

I was intentionally dateless in 2018… I thought I was ready to dive back in in 2019 but I wasn’t. What I won’t do: I will not *look* for someone. I will not chase someone that doesn’t emphatically reciprocate a desire to be with me. I will not settle. I will not be ridiculed. What I will do: I’m going to keep taking time to meet my own needs, date myself, have fun with myself and be open to the truth that who is for me will come to me with unconditional acceptance 🥰

I got married before I was ready. I had kids before I was ready. I got a divorce before I was ready. I’ve been playing catch-up my whole adult life barely making ends meet.

MONEY:

Finances continue to be painful for me. I got married before I was ready. I had kids before I was ready. I got a divorce before I was ready. I’ve been playing catch-up my whole adult life barely making ends meet. BUT my lights are on and I refuse to let my children grow up the way I did… On someone else’s couch. In someone else’s bed. Doing homework by candlelight. Never having friends over… and I’m certain 2020 is the year when things flip. For the best. And I will never have to have a neck pain, a stomach ache, a twitching eye over money again!

MESSES:

I’m getting sued! It’s a long and agonizing process. If you ask me privately, I’ll direct you to public records. But I won’t comment publicly at this time.

FRIENDS:

I have been practicing intentional friendship the last year or two. Realizing that I’ve always been a bit awkward and I never knew how to do it properly, it’s taken a considerable effort to emphatically reciprocate true friendship. And let me tell you: I HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS. Regardless of the state or country, you spoil me. You remind me that I’m fun and worthy and beautiful and lovable. You know my love languages. In addition to the best gifts ever, you bring me unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness when I flake. And you never stop. You see me. I am so grateful for your love and laughter. And I am doing my best to mirror it back and reflect big shiny love all over you too. Ok I have to stop because I’m crying.

GROWTH:

Remembering The Force is real. Shifting my inner dialogue. Maintaining healthy boundaries. Advocating for myself — being assertive is not being “mean.” More tattoos. More travel. More 🦆 YES moments. 😁😅🥰

Cheers to 2020

~OR

You’ve Been Served

Ok, whew. I’m on my way to an author talk. A big one. I won’t say where until it’s over.

The last time I had a public event, I got served. Yeah. I’m being *sued.*

I laughed. For one whole day, I laughed.

And for the next eight weeks, I was sick with anxiety. I was embarrassed. Humiliated. Again.

I doubted myself. Every decision I ever made. Even things I couldn’t control. Am I too smart? Too pretty? Am I intimidating? Am I too good at too many things? Am I SO much that I deserve to be knocked down a few pegs? Do I deserve to be reduced to feeling as attractive and worthy as a maggot?

I knew I was being gaslighted. I knew this in my head, but suddenly any help or hope was //just// enough out of reach to leave me thrashing in despair. Like being stranded in the ocean while a plane passes overhead, too big and too far and too occupied to care.

So I shrank away, afraid of who I could talk to and who I could trust. I retreated. I fell into a deep depression — the kind you need pills for. My blood pressure spiked. I became apathetic about my existence. I gained 15lbs. I wanted to die (CLARITY: I wasn’t going to take my own life. But if it *happened* *on its own,* my arms were open wide. Come for me, End. Take me. I’ve had quite enough now).

Outwardly, I strutted with an unwavering voice, my chest out and head high. But when I returned home, worried I was being followed or stalked, I’d triple lock the door, turn off all the lights, cover the windows, and wither, shrivel up. And cry.

I’d glare at any man that smiled at me. I’d swat any approaching eyes, afraid they’d molest my curves, or foreign hands teasing to violate my skin, or sneaking invasive noses stealing my scent.

I was ashamed. For being a bad victim. For being the kind that fight. The ones that fight are the ones that are a threat. And the ones that get punished. And then they come for you. They rip you open again. They snatched my giant scab off a nearly-healed wound. Tearing my flesh and leaving the unpigmented vulnerable white tissue of my psyche exposed and stinging.

The street light went out and I thought it was intentional so that I could be attacked in my home in the dark. No light. No witnesses. I heard knocking once and was certain they were coming for me to shut me up for good. Every car riding too close was a threat. Every doppelgänger sighting left me overcome with nausea. My children. How can I protect my children from this foe?

I haven’t written or confidently played my cello since. I stopped recording my podcasts. Someone was finding my shows and giving one-star rating just to be hateful. I felt like I had been cursed. Cursed for not being a silent and submissive survivor. Cursed because I showed resilience and excellence instead of shame and humiliation. I was being punished. Because I had the audacity to thrive in spite of it. And for too long, I let that be my story. For two months I let them win.

But then, something clicked. I don’t know what or why or when exactly — sometime in September or October — I was just over it. Zero fux. Not one. Je m’en fous. I wasn’t giving this monster of fear any more of my energy. I am bigger and better and braver than all of this. Naming the demon disarms it. My silent suffering had been giving it satisfaction. But I’m beyond that now. My truth has always been my greatest weapon. I can’t say I’ve survived worse but I’m doing The Worst as we speak…so there’s that.

My darkness has passed and I’m working on regulating my blood pressure. I’m not paranoid anymore. And while there’s still no end in sight, it’s not consuming my thoughts. I’m jumping back into writing music and stories and prepping my voice for a podcasting return.

I am protected. Shrouded in love. I have a powerful team. I’m gone be alright.

And so…it’s time to take the stage again. Here I go, on my first event since July. To talk to and perform for 100 high schoolers. About life. About writing. About choices. About bravery.

I’m ready. ♥️

#thefearlessmoveforward #thehibouleans #andshewillflourish #octaviareese

This Thing

We recently had family night at my kids’ school. There were games and activities. The main event in the art room was a self portrait in the theme of Wonder. Draw a U shape for your face. Draw one eye. Two ears. Add some features. Your hair. Your mouth. Do you wear glasses? Do you have freckles? Then in the background, use words that describe yourself. Who are you?

I think I got more out of it than the kids…

I stopped to think about myself for a moment. Who I am. Who I tell myself I am. Who other people tell me I am.

I’ve had a very traumatic series of weeks. I want to talk about the triggering event, but I won’t. I laughed at first. Heartily. The whole thing is so silly, really. But then I got frustrated. And then I got confused. And then I got worried. I’ve been surrounded by gas-lighters my whole life. People that, whether they know it or not, blame me for things, challenge my sanity and keep me in a reduced state of presence. I believed them. I’ve done a lot of work to rise above that. But this thing. This big scary thing took me back there and tried to tell me I’m the villain.

I stopped to think about myself for a moment. Who I am. Who I tell myself I am. Who other people tell me I am.

And then I got depressed. I closed up. I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t talking. I hadn’t sat in my delicious tub in so long it started to collect dust. I stopped responding to texts. Calls. I stopped writing. I hid. From others and myself. I stopped dreaming. I stopped recording podcasts. I started chain smoking. I gained 15lbs. I cried. A lot. I slept a lot. I avoided the world. My prayers became wordless sobs. Soul-wails of agony. WHY ME? Haven’t I been through enough?

I even told my kids, “Mommy’s brain is sick right now — if I don’t seem like myself, be patient with me, ok?”

“Ok, mama,” they said.

I started antidepressants for the first time in my life. Five days later, I stopped them — I was forgetting words mid-phrase. I forgot how to spell my children’s names. I felt like these pills were inducing dementia. I’d rather cope with my own chemistry than be thrown into a worse state.

But this painting… I saw myself. I looked into my own eyes and could finally say, “Octavia, you’re stronger than this.”

I am.

I’m a warrior. This thing that is happening to me is happening because I’m strong. It’s happening because I’m intimidating. It’s happening because I’m powerful enough to not just stand up but also to fight back. Sure, I had to feel the lows — and I’m grateful for that pain — but I don’t have to stay there.

Despite the days when I’ve had to pull over my car just to scream at the top of my lungs and let the tears flow; despite the hours I’ve buried my face in my pillow and wept myself to sleep; despite rolling over every morning and feeling as lonely as the last person on earth, I am surrounded by friends that straighten my crown and lift up my chin. I am protected by a Spirit that can’t be defeated. I have been graced with a team of soldiers I could never repay. I am loved by people that celebrate every win, no matter how minuscule.

If my battle protects others, bring it on. If this war I’m in brings peace and healing to future victims, I’m here for it. If this attack is the plot twist in my narrative, fine. I’m on a mission that can’t be stopped. I have a calling that can’t be blocked. I have a voice that will not be silenced. I’m back.

Let what is for me come to me. Let what is against me be removed from my path.

Let it be.

Episode 001 Pure Lies


“No one will ever want you – you have three kids.”

Yes, that’s an actual quote from an actual human on the topic of me leaving my husband. I felt cursed. I felt like I was damaged goods. I felt like this person was right. Until I started dating again and I found out that they were very wrong. I could get a date! I was desirable – I was attractive – I was wanted! But then, I started to have doubts.

When I got ghosted the first time… and then the second time… and then the third time… all of them saying, “YOU’VE GOT THREE KIDS!”

Yeah, homie, I know. I was there.

The next time it came up, it was a two-fer. This person said the same for him and for his friend – yes I was romantically involved with friends – not at the same time; years apart; the first gave his blessing. But anyway… this person told me for him and his friend precisely why I was fun, but not a keeper.

Then came this one wildly attractive guy that I had a crush on – now, let it be known, I have crushes on many people, frequently. People are attractive, and for me, 98% of the time, I’d rather silently admire someone from afar than actually try to get to know them. I think it’s important to acknowledge attraction as a normal and natural thing – and a thing that can exist within itself as only that – a crush. People, especially people we are attracted to, don’t need to be owned and kept. Why are we so incapable of acknowledging beauty without trying to own it? Anyway, that’s another show. THIS show, is about the crush that jumped the entire gun to break up with me before we even talked about having a date because I already have kids and that’s something he wants to experience for the first time together with someone else.

Road to Relovery Tavinda Media

And finally, most recently, I was just told, “You’re like the perfect woman! But you’re divorced and have three kids. I want to have kids. If we have kids together, my first kids won’t be your first kids.” 

Yep, I’ll say that one again – my first kids won’t be your first kids.

Now, let it be known, I would rather be single and happy than feel guilt or shame for having three delightful children with a man I very much loved at the time. Those boys were made from love and they are the very epitome of it.

And we are a package deal. It hurts my heart to think some men would rather abandon the treasure of loving me because it means they’d also have to love my children. It makes me ache to know that they’re missing out on three of the best children in the world. That is entirely their loss – times four – and if they don’t want to find out how awesome my kids are, they don’t deserve me either.

I’d also like to point out pointedly point out – that as a pansexual – only cis-het men have expressed this concept of sperm-egotism; women and non-binary people I have dated couldn’t care less – they embrace me and my little darlings.

My personal opinion, I am pretty fucking awesome and I have no doubt that if and when these men find their life partners, they will always wonder about me – they will always wonder, what if I had given Octavia a try.

And you know why? Because kids grow up. Children are temporary fleeting treasures that are here for a few moments and then off on their own to adult in the wild. When the children are gone, what’s left but the two adults that raised them and whatever partnership they have is fully exposed. Children are neither bandaids nor baggage. They can’t save a relationship up against the ropes and they certainly shouldn’t be a barrier between two hearts that desperately desire each other.

Since I have been prematurely rejected more than five times with this – but you already have kids – response, I decided to take this strange perspective to the socials and to ask for others’ ideas on the topic.

Tavinda Media Road to Relovery

Many of the responses were confirmation bias – trashy insult; they’re intimidated by you and this is a neg to make you feel small; it’s just an excuse for being noncommittal; this is fragile masculinity afraid to parent a child he didn’t produce; immaturity avoiding responsibility… but then there were a few I hadn’t heard before, something on the topic of purity. This is the angle I want to explore and then destroy…

Follow @RoadtoRelovery on instagram and Facebook.

Or email me, Octavia Reese at roadtorelovery@gmail.com or octavia@tavindamedia.com

Head over to Road to Relovery the Podcast to listen, or search “Tavinda Media” in your favorite podcast app and subscribe!

Introducing Road to Relovery, the Podcast

Hey everyone — guess, what? This beaut [ pr. “beyoot] of a blog is turning into a podcast! Starting this month, Tavinda Media is putting these very articles on the air and I can’t wait to share my new vision of Road to Relovery with you.

Some new things coming up: another facelift for this web site and I’ll be adding new voices to the table, too. Each episode could feature me, several guest co-hosts or even a panel of other lovely people to discuss some of these very topics — and more!

My vision is to keep talking about these real life issues and keep reminding you — yes you — that you’re not alone in whatever it is you’re going through. Don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback or questions, and don’t for get to rate, review and subscribe to the Road to Relovery podcast!

Join me on the socials, too: @roadtorelovery and on Facebook.

Octavia Reese Road to Relovery

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