Sunshine Awards: For you, Tabitha!

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I’m not really a part of the “blogging community” nor do I have any real desire to be. I don’t want hundreds of readers. I don’t want indignant or offensive comments. And I don’t want to feel obligated to write posts consistently (although that would be a good thing).

However, when one of my favorite people in the world asks me to partake in a blogging activity, I’m happy to oblige. Plus I like answering questions about myself. My college friend Tabitha over at Studer Team tagged me to participate in a questionnaire for the Sunshine Awards. What are they? I don’t know. Am I nominated? I don’t think so? But ask and I shall answer, Tab! ūüôā

10 Questions:

1. What is the first thing you drink in the morning? Water. When I started school I tried becoming a coffee drinker but I just thought of it as extra calories and money. ¬†I want to try to start drinking a gallon of water a day. ¬†Also, if it’s certain early early mornings the answer is vodka.

2. What is your favorite day of the week and why? ¬†Hmmm, well I’m currently on break so everyday is great. I guess Saturdays are my favorite because, ya know, they’re play time. Let’s be honest though, every day in New Orleans can be play time.

3. What is your least favorite chore? Hmm, I don’t really think of things I do as chores. I wash the dishes when I use them. Clean my room when it’s messy. I actually really enjoy cleaning. There isn’t really anything I have to do that I would dread, like raking leaves or shoveling snow. Probably because I rent? ¬†I have little to no desire to own a home.

4. What are the biggest changes from your life today compared to five years ago? In school. In a ¬†new city. Single? I can’t remember if I was in a relationship or not. Now in my 30s which is a big game changer. Happier. Poorer. Really into cats.

5. What category of pins do you like best? (food, nail art, crafts, etc). Took me a while to realize this referenced pinterest. I don’t use pinterest except occasionally, when in the throes of wanderlust, to browse pretty travel quotes. ¬†Pinterest seems like a rabbit hole that I would never escape.

6. If you had 60 minutes all to yourself in the middle of the day today, what would you do? Well, I have that pretty frequently. Go for a walk, take a nap, cook, clean, stalk travel websites, ride my bike, watch netflix, go to my corner bar, play with my cat, read a book, etc etc.

7. What was the last movie/video/commercial (damn you, Carters) that made you cry? Well. Last night I watched a 4 hour marathon of My Cat From Hell and I teared up during every episode. ¬†Guys, Jackson Galaxy is not just rehabilitating cats, he’s fixing relationships. ¬†Gets me every time. Funny you should ask: yes this IS why I’m single.

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8. If you had the time and money to study something in depth for 6 months, what would you want to learn? I’m currently doing that: social work

9. What are three things you took for granted today? I’m not sure how to answer that. We are all constantly taking things for granted: access to food, clean water, the ability (for many of us) to breathe, walk, see, hear, talk, dance, laugh, hug, read, write, etc. ¬†But if we spent all day thinking about everything we take for granted, we’d never get out of bed. ¬†I actually haven’t done that today but that’s besides the point. Here are some things I especially appreciate today: the weather in New Orleans, the bowl(s) of pasta I just ate (in bed), new friends, having a few more days of break, Netflix instant, da bird cat toy, my bed, oreo cookies.

10. What is your favorite personality trait about yourself? The ability to remain calm and find humor in everything.

I think I’m supposed to ask 10 more questions to fellow bloggers except I don’t consistently read any blogs (except Studer Team of course). Sooo, I’ll just ask questions that no one will answer, k? K.

1) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

2) What are you doing for Mardi Gras? I have a very comfortable sofa bed

3) What do you consider the pros and cons of marriage?

4) If you were a cat, what would you be? Answer: awesome.

5) If you could change only one thing about the world, what would it be?

6) What do you love about your life?

7) Where do you see yourself in a year?

8) Have you seen Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? You should.

9) What would you change about your life? Why don’t/can’t you?

10) ¬†Where’d you get that sweater? It looks amazing on you.

Love you Tab! Still want to be you when I grow up.

Looking back. Looking forward

It’s that time of year when we traditionally reflect on the year¬†past and resolve what we will accomplish in the upcoming year.

2013 was a year of big changes

In January I resolved to embark on an adventure. The planning began.

In February I submitted my  application to graduate school and was accepted two weeks later.

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In March I had my last day of work and spent the month selling a ton of my belongings and packing up my Baltimore apartment. And having a series of going away parties. I’ll always love you, Baltimore.


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In April I moved my remaining stuff to my mom’s house and flew to Mexico. Tulum reawakened my spirit.

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From April to May I traveled around Belize. Life was a beach.

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In June I traveled around Guatemala and a little bit more of Mexico. Every day was an adventure.

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I met amazing people and and made connections and memories that I think about (and laugh about) nearly everyday.  I left a small piece of my heart on that trip.

In July I moved to New Orleans and celebrated my 30th birthday.

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In August I got settled into my new home. I moved into a new one in November. It has a pool, and a balcony on the parade route.  What can I say, I like to upgrade.

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In September I began graduate school – in pursuit of a masters in social work.

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From September to December I was submerged  in the world of social work. I learned so much about the world and about myself. I was challenged and rewarded. I learned to advocate for myself and others. I also made new friends and  entertained many guests from near and far who reminded me that some bonds can not be broken through time or distance.


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In December I began Winter break. I decompressed, regrouped and I celebrated. Oh boy did I celebrate.

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And now, in January, I am preparing to return to school in 2 days. ¬†A part of me wants break to continue indefinitely. I’m so relaxed, I’m having so much fun, I haven’t witnessed a heated debate about sexism in a while. But a large part of me is excited to go back. I start an awesome internship, classes will be more focused on (my biggest interest) counseling. And I have a thirst for knowledge that can’t be quenched by Facebook and Buzzfeed. (But how I will miss these lazy days).

Every January when I look back, I am amazed by how much I’ve grown and expanded my mind. When I was a kid, I thought that you became an adult and suddenly you were wise and evolved. It never occurred to me that it was a process. It also never occurred to me that not everyone becomes the best version of themselves as they age. ¬†I now see that it’s something you have to actively invest in.

For me, the ¬†major milestones of my life aren’t marriage or children or my first mortgage.¬†My milestones are the moments I experience that expand me: ¬†when I took the plunge off that 20 foot cliff, when I traveled alone for the first time, when I moved to a(nother) new city, when I read that book that changed my life, when I fostered a litter of kittens, when I formed an instant connection with that person, when I graduate from this program. ¬†In 2014, I resolve to collect even more of those moments, and to write about them here, for posterity’s sake.

I also resolve to exercise my body as much as I’ve been exercising my mind. I’m not after a flat stomach (although, I’m certainly not against it). When I travel, I am constantly active outdoors: trekking, diving, swimming, climbing. ¬†I want my body to feel how it does when I return from a trip: strong, healthy and connected to the planet. ¬†With a shiny new bike, winter temps generally in the 60s, and a¬†park like this so close, I have no excuses.

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I resolve to continue to pursue the best version of myself. And have a whole lot of fun along the way.

(Come visit!)

 

 

First semester of Graduate School: A Reflection

Hey y’all (I say that now)

It’s been a long time since I’ve last written on this blog. It hasn’t been a long time since I’ve written – throughout the semester I’ve written papers. essays, analyses, short answers etc. But, I haven’t used this blog of mine. ¬†I’ve thought about it on occasion, but everything else seemed so much more important. I realize now (and probably subconsciously at the time) that that was not true.

This blog is my creative outlet. It allows me to process the stories of my life and present them in a way that is reader friendly. ¬†That processing is what keeps me an optimist – even the worst stories, when analyzed, have their silver lining. ¬†Whenever I hear someone telling a hilarious story about a day, week, or time when all kinds of crazy things transpired, I think, “I bet this was the opposite of funny when it was happening”. Life is up, life is down, perception is everything. ¬†This blog keeps my perception positive.

My first semester of graduate school posed a challenge to that positivity. I moved to a new city where I knew only a couple people. Right before school started, a close friendship abruptly and inexplicably ended.  Throughout the semester we learned about terrible things that make up the fabric of American society: racism, sexism, the big business of incarceration, poverty, oppression, inequality, crime, the broken education system, under treatment of mental illness, political corruption, the list goes on and on. This new knowledge opened my eyes to the injustice inherent in American society. This knowledge also became a heavy burden.

I felt all of the following things during this semester: helpless, inspired, lonely, connected, oppressed, empowered, angry, energized, unwanted (by society), instrumental (to society), completely lost, and found.

The world that I view now is different than the one than I viewed in September, fresh off an amazing trip through Central America.

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First day of school

But, it’s also a different world than the one I viewed during the semester, while being filled to the brim with social work knowledge. ¬†The world I saw then made me question my identity and my place in the world. It made me, as a black woman, hyper aware about issues of race and gender. ¬†It took away my carefree optimism and replaced it with seriousness and over analysis. ¬†On the surface, I seemed similar to the person who gallavanted through Central America, perhaps an exhausted version. But inside, I was undergoing an identity crisis.

It went a little something like this: So, this is how America feels about black people. So this is how America treats women. America considers me double inferior. Have I internalized this inferiority? Where do I fit in in this society? Is everyone racist? Can I continue my friendships now that I clearly see the micro aggressions and unconscious biases people make about race, gender, sexuality etc? What do I do with all of this knowledge? *walking down the street* Does that person think I’m going to rob them? ¬†Why am I now nervous when I see this person walking towards me? Have I developed prejudices? Can I live in a state with so many problems?

And so on and so forth.

Add in a hearty dose of meeting dozens of new people, two moves, a shady landlord, and trying to learn a new city.

My brain got the exercise of it’s lifetime. (I wish I could say the same for my body)

Now that I’ve been on Christmas break for a few weeks, with a healthy mix of socialization and alone time, and with no social work books in sight, I’m feeling like myself again. A wiser, more socially informed version of myself. I know about the injustices and the suffering out there, but I’m not taking it on as my own. ¬†I see the biases and oppression, but I also see the tolerance and connectivity. ¬†I am hopeful but aware. I know I can only do so much during my tenure on this planet. ¬†But that is enough. I am enough. We all are enough.

So, like I said, it’s been a challenging few months. It’s also been full of rewards. I love this new city of mine. I love being in school. I love my apartment. I love my new friends. I really love my cat. (I just bought her a toy called da bird and it’s incredible – first review I’ve ever written on Amazon). I’ve had friends from afar who have, during their brief visits, made this city really feel like home. Thank you Sammy, DJ Killa, Marsalalala, Sarapatweaver, Slarcks, Benny, Krysten, Dodobird, Momzie, Khary and Drewpy. ¬†It was so SO good to see you all. In those times, I felt most like myself. And while I was constantly exhausted, I also made some amazing memories. ¬†I am exactly where I want and need to be.

You know that old cliche’ parents always say about parenthood: “it’s hard, but it’s the best thing I ever did”?

That’s how I feel about my life.

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Happy 2014, y’all.