Hope

It happened. The binge watching. The time-stunning world-gulping addictive blackhole itch that only Netflix or OnDemand can scratch.   First, it was Shannara, a fantastic escape to post-apocalyptic Elvin-run Earth that I first visited in the 90s with my brother. Druids. Allanon. This Allanon is hot. 1997 me didn’t envision him like this. 2016 me approves.

Next it was X-Files, like the good and faithful nerd that I am. It’s been nice pretending to be a tween again.

Then Mr. Robot. I tried. I really tried. I haven’t given up. But there’s something about the curiously attractive cartoonish features of the main character that entrance me in his face; not to mention his monotone, rhythmic – humming to near-numbing – monologues combined with the smog-filtered cinematography that lull me right to sleep. I haven’t noticed my eyes have closed and I’ve rested away several hours of my life until the silence of the electronics’ auto-sleep jolts me awake.

Ever since having children, I hate the silence. Because it’s when there’s nothing on that I hear everything the most. Creaks. Motors. Fans. People laughing a block away. Someone’s engine. Dogs barking. Of course, my own thoughts are loudest of all.

And I just miss my kids. When they’re awake, I miss the nonstop cycle of giggle-scream-whine-cry-guffaw-mom!-cry-scream-I’m hungry! And of course tripping over them as they stay underfoot. Stay. Six eyes on me as I mount my porcelain throne. I draw the line when they ask to see what happened. Just leave. They abide by sitting outside the door and commenting on the smells, asking when I’m done, sliding notes and finger tips under the door.

But when they’re sleeping or with their dad, I miss that complete disregard of privacy and breech of personal space. I miss it like…like a mother misses her children.

Ironically, since I put in my two weeks and was instead granted an immediate exit, thus walking into an unexpectedly needed yet desperately underfunded 2.5-week sabbatical, I’ve had the most frustrating experiences with my decrepit and ever-expiring netbook paired with a deafening case of writer’s block.

So, childless, workless, and afraid of the silence, back to the téle I go. There’s this one thing I keep hearing people talk about. Orange is the New Black. I usually don’t follow TV fads or jump on the hype. I likes what I likes and I’ll watches when I want to watches. But I’ll watch it because I’m curious, not because everyone else says I have to watch it. So, three years later, now I’m curious.

And I’m hooked.

What stood out to me the most, and what has finally cured my temporary case of writer’s block, was in Season One when the skinny mousy yoga lady says that one part that finally starts to ground the main gal.

“You have to remember that. It’s all temporary.”

I had one of those weird reactions like looking behind me to make eye contact with my neighbor because obviously there had to be a witness to this woman on Netflix that just said the thing that I always say – to myself, so that I don’t ever give up; to my friends, so that they don’t ever give up. But oh yeah, I’m alone. So I smiled to myself. I get me. High five.

Maybe that’s why I love the show so much now. Because it speaks to me where I’m at. No not “prision;” but my not-ideal situation.

I never made a conscious decision to be in the circumstances where I am now. Yet I don’t feel that I’m being punished any more than I feel imprisoned. That’s life. And I know that I have to keep going. The bad days are not forever. While it seems like they will never end, they are just as long as the good days I don’t ever want to end.

The other side of knowing that a not-so-ideal situation is temporary is having the hope that the next season is better. Or in the least, it will be a new change. A new adventure. Perhaps a new definition of hard-challenging-difficult-maddening, but the adapting will be distracting enough to feel at least temporarily better than the old bad.

Hope.

hope
/hōp/
noun
  1.  
    a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
    “he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information”
  2. archaic
    a feeling of trust.
verb
  1.  
    want something to happen or be the case.
    “he’s hoping for an offer of compensation”
    synonyms: expect, anticipate, look for, be hopeful of, pin one’s hopes on, want;

My hope is holding onto the possibility that things will change. Improve. Shift. Having faith that this sucky spot right now is not what God has intended for me. Why would I have such a huge calling on my heart to do certain things if they were only fake dreams, toying with my childlike wonder and optimism?

I don’t believe in a God that teases. I don’t believe in a Universe that beckons me towards a distant rainbow and then chuckles as I fall into a bottomless canyon on the way to paradise.

No. Hope is why I go skipping and singing through the zoo with my children as if nothing else matters in the world except that moment. Because it’s true. That glorious musical-like family performance at the zoo is just as temporary as my unintentional sabbatical that has already disappeared and died.

It is as temporary as my girlish figure. It is as temporary as my pregnancies. As adapting to raise one child. Then two. The intense heartache of losing a third. Then welcoming a fourth. As temporary as our first family vacation. Our last family vacation. It is as temporary as an infant’s first steps. Gone as soon as they happened. He’ll never take another first step. The first day of kindergarten. First lost baby tooth.

Life moments are fleeting. Life itself is fleeting.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

~Hebrews 6:18

Hope is and always has been one of my three recurring life themes. The other two are Life & Death.

Weird…

So while I laid my sabbatical to rest last night, this morning I awoke to a renaissance. A new life beginning today, where I quite literally hold a family’s hands as they say goodbye to one loved life; and within hours, watch several families crumble to their knees in gratitude for a temporary extension of their own loved ones lives.

Today I feel whole. My greatest gifts have finally been paired with a great need. Life from Death. And in the temporary phases that are life, I Hope that the painful times seem short and the precious moments linger…


~OR

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#febgoalsonfleek 

My goal of committing to a word a day in January was a success! But I don’t want to stop. It was a fantastic experience of intentional daily reflection. Still, a word a day was a bit aggressive. I’m going to do a word a week. 

Sprinkled with some online dating facepalms. 

Because honestly. I need to be the change I want to see in this digital love circus. 

TOPIC COMING SOON – false intimacy. 

Yeah. Sit on that for a minute. 

~OR

Strong

Last night a dear friend and I dined and caught up. As I vulnerably told her about my /failed/ marriage and my /semi/ functional family, she asked, “Octavia. Are you alone?”

I paused. I chuckled.

“Yes.”

“You have the weight of the wor–how do you come skipping into church every week!?”

And yes, I do skip. And hop. And laugh. And smile.

And no, it is not fake.

I do have a lot to process. And I do feel like crumbling most days. But I don’t crumble. I’m strong. And I surprise myself how much everyday.

~OR

Whimsy

whim·sy
ˈ(h)wimzē/

noun

playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.

“the film is an awkward blend of whimsy and moralizing”

a whim.

plural noun: whimsies; plural noun: whimseys

a thing that is fanciful or odd.

“the stone carvings and whimsies”

 
~OR 

Validated

 

photo creds IG @_wills

 

Part of my Road to Relovery includes accepting myself – every part of myself – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and the hardest one, physically.
I’ve been shamed and teased about my body shape and even coached on how to hide the curves and how to learn to walk or sit or dress differnently so that I look “normal.”

Now I’m at a place where I don’t need external validation because I’ve validated myself.

But guess what…

Read this.

A Big Butt Is A Healthy Butt: Women With Big Butts Are Smarter And Healthier – ELITE DAILY

Sometimes it just feels so good when science tells you it’s all good.

……………………….
val·i·date

ˈvaləˌdāt/

verb

past tense: validated; past participle: validated

check or prove the validity or accuracy of (something).

“these estimates have been validated by periodic surveys”

demonstrate or support the truth or value of.

“in a healthy family a child’s feelings are validated”

synonyms: prove, substantiate, corroborate, verify, support, back up, bear out, lend force to, confirm, justify, vindicate, authenticate

“clinical trials now exist to validate this claim”

make or declare legally valid.

synonyms: ratify, endorse, approve, agree to, accept, authorize, legalize, legitimize, warrant, license, certify, recognize

“250 certificates need to be validated”

………………………..

Drops mic.
~OR

 

Smart

<<This is Octavia. Octavia can learn from her mistakes. Octavia doesn’t trust people that keep…messing up her happy vibe. Octavia can adapt. Octavia is smart. Be like Octavia.>>

What’s that saying about insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

That sounds awful. It’s like me going to the ATM over and over and expecting money will actually come out next time.

I remember having my mind blown in a psych class when our text broke down behavior and the ability to learn. Isn’t it amazing how quickly someone of sound mind can adapt? We’re not dumb!

You reach for that bright pretty warm thing and get burned. That hurt. Owie.  I know you bet not grab a flame again! Even animals know this. They -we- are smart; we will remember the pain and never make that mistake twice. We are not insane; we don’t keep grabbing the fire until the fire stops being fire. We have memories.

My friend shared this and it hit me in my word-feels. So I had to share it.

There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk

(Autobiography in Five Chapters)

By Portia Nelson

(1) I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost … I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

(2) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

(3) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

(4) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

(5) I walk down another street.

And I had to share smart. Because I’m on a different path now. I’m never falling in that same hole again. And I’ll never fall in the same (differnent)hole more than once!

Hope you find your smart today and take a different street.

~OR

Pregnant

NO IM NOT HAVING A BABY! 

I HAVE NOT BEEN FERTILIZED. I just like the word. Sit down. Catch your breath. No. No child. 

(Although truth be told if my life partner ever gets his reality together and realizes I’m his everything he ever wanted and he is ready to chose to love me unconditionally forever, I could TOTALLY have two more babies! But no, not today. Because he isn’t ready for me yet. I also don’t know who he is.)

Anyhoo. Pregnant.

preg·nant

/ˈpreɡnənt/

adjective

1.

(of a woman or female animal) having a child or young developing in the uterus.

“a pregnant woman”

synonyms: expecting a baby, expectant, carrying a child; More

2.

full of meaning; significant or suggestive.

“a pregnant pause”

synonyms: full of, filled with, charged with, heavy with, fraught with, replete with, rich in, abounding in…

This word was with me all day today but I waited until the end of the day for three specific reasons:

1. I fell asleep in a pile of laundry on my couch watching the new X Files last night. Truth. Body said, “nope.”

2. I woke up at 3am and feverishly tried to get myself together for a hectic Monday. Body was like, “eh ok, that was a good nap.”

3. Less time for you YES YOU to freak out and think I’m actually having someone’s child. I’ll be on Tuesday’s word before you get that far…ideally. 

But yes. I’ve felt “pregnant” all day today. Again not physically – #beentheredonethat – but pregnant as like a pause…full, heavy, expecting…

I have creative “babies” within my spirit. They are incubating. Little fetuses of passions, thoughts, ideas, goals, dreams, callings, that are aching to be born. I feel like I’m in a metaphysical 39th week of gestation and I just need to pop these suckers out. 

But I will wait. Because they will be birthed when they are ready. Ripe. Full term. And so for now I am simply…pregnant. With fulfilled dreams. 

~OR

  

Forgetful (dreamy)

for·get·fulfərˈɡetfəl/

adjective

apt or likely not to remember.

“I’m a bit forgetful these days”

synonyms: absentminded, amnesic, amnesiac, vague, disorganized, dreamy, abstracted; 

I LOVE how forgetful tends to be taken as a negative but dreamy is one of the synonyms and THAT can never be negative. So while I am forgetful today (because today’s word a day almost didn’t happen) I’m am also totally abstract and dreamy! And commuted. And dedicated! It is way to early in the year to slack now!

Now back to everything else I have to do today… 

~OR 

  

Content

Do you ever get chills, close your eyes and smile and think, “It is well with my soul?”

I do too. 

  
con·tent

kənˈtent/

adjective

1.

in a state of peaceful happiness.

“he seemed more content, less bitter”

synonyms: contented, satisfied, pleased, gratified, fulfilled, happy, cheerful, glad; More

verb

1.

satisfy (someone).

“nothing would content her”

synonyms: satisfy, please; More

~OR

Oblivious 

ob·liv·i·ous

/əˈblivēəs/Submit

adjective

not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one.

“she became absorbed, oblivious to the passage of time”

synonyms: unaware of, unconscious of, heedless of, unmindful of, insensible of/to, unheeding of, ignorant of, incognizant of, blind to, deaf to, unsuspecting of, unobservant of;

Oblivious. This is how I perceive many decision makers of the ethnic majority that hold leadership positions in large influential companies. It is a consistent pattern I have noticed over my three-plus decades on the planet. Certain issues are simply not on their radar, and often, the lie entirely beyond their realm of reality. For them, issues that affect those of us Of Color are nonexistent.  I could also generalize and include people at or below the poverty level and other “invisible” groups. The truth here is that all of us have a box of normalcy in which we reside and build blinders over time. And before we know it, we are completely ignorant to issues that are just out of reach of the edges of our Safe Zone.

And before we know it, we are completely ignorant to issues that are just out of reach of the edges of our Safe Zone.

Due to oblivious screenwriters, I passionately rejected TV shows like Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and The City, (and reluctantly slightly snubbed 90% of my beloved sci-fi/fantasy epic adventures) because not one of the main characters looked like me. I intensely avoided several apparel stores in the malls – which is hard to do as a teenager! – because people that looked like me or were shaped like me were never in their promotional images. These writing, editing, marketing and advertising teams were oblivious to what I needed to relate to for role models, life scenarios, entertainment, and fashion.

Even Hollywood leaders are sorely clueless. While much of Hollywood boasts forward-thinking inclusive agendas, when it comes down to actually taking notice of and rewarding our Brothers and Sisters Of Color, we still don’t seem to make the cut. They are oblivious to their inherent exclusion – unless a Person Of Color flawlessly portrays a character trapped in a nauseatingly negative image of blackness (i.e., abusers, slaves, servants – these roles are rewarded, glorified, honored).

While much of Hollywood boasts forward-thinking inclusive agendas, when it comes down to actually taking notice of and rewarding our Brothers and Sisters Of Color, we still don’t seem to make the cut.

This is why I write. This is why my characters are brown. This is why The Hibouleans Series is for all the little brown girl epic-adventure-lovers that have yet to see one of us take a Chosen One role in a bestselling novel or on the big screen. So what images, then are my little brown girls being shown?

A NYTimes article circulated on Facebook today, naming the recall of A Birthday Cake for George Washington (now of course a #1 Bestseller).

The book sounds cute enough. It sounds harmless enough. It even sounds like it might just be educational, too.

But when you’re a little brown kid reading a book about our first president’s slaves happily baking him the best cake ever, it is a subliminal suggestion that paints a sunny – jovial, even – façade over the disgrace and horror that was slavery.  Not only is it confusing because it implies slaves might have taken pleasure in being nonhuman objects of possession, but it also implies that everyone is still OK with that image today.

As an author, writer, illustrator, feverishly hoping to one day live on my book sales, I know the steps involved in this incredible process – from the twinkle of concept to hard copies on shelves.

What I find most disturbing about this whole thing is that not only is the book’s tone and feel a product the author is proud of as one of her creative babies (and honestly, congrats on having a concept, most people don’t even get that far) but through the hands of a DIVERSE team of beta readers, editors, illustrators, contributors and publishers, not one of them thought “hmmm this might be a bad idea…”

“hmmm this might be a bad idea…”

And yes, a diverse team let this happen. But according to NPR, this isn’t the first time a book depicting happy slaves made it this far, only to also be pulled; that one by a team of Ethnic Majority. Perhaps this second attempt was pushed to be produced by a more diverse team as if to get a “pass” with the public? If so, FAIL.

Did they really have no clue how this would affect readers? Were they that inconsiderate? Or did this one slip through the filter around their world of what is appropriate? Were they as oblivious as the college president that couldn’t acknowledge the mistreatment of his students until the issue cost him his job?

It takes exceptional leadership. And I mean truly extraordinary leadership – to be able to connect and empathize with their team, their partners, and ultimately, their audience to foresee issues that adversely affect those they are actually trying to serve.

The option to abort this project could have been enforced by several people at any point over the probable year-plus it took to bring this book to life. And not one of them spoke up.

So while I shake my head in disappointment at Scholastic leadership for letting this work slip through the net, I still applaud the company for responding to the public and accepting that the depiction of happy slaves is vibrantly destructive to the America of tomorrow.

Maybe they can further redeem themselves by publishing a foreshadowing book where 60% of Fortune 500 companies have Leaders Of Color by 2030

People, take off the blinders.  You have to TRY to NOT be oblivious to the pain of others. Compassion and understanding take real effort.

~OR