It's amazing the difference self care makes. I made some great split pea soup w/smoked turkey leg (that I got from the market) yesterday. It put an end to an outrageous couple of days of poor eating. I really enjoyed it and it made me feel good. I'm on my way to do my hair, which will hopefully be an equally enjoyable and fulfilling activity.
The loves of my life are napping and there's a bit of quiet, which I am using to relax and take care of me.
I've been fragile recently. If struck at the wrong angle capable of completely shattering. I feel simultaneously strong and weak. Often its hard to reflect on my personal struggles because I tend to consider the challenges people much less privileged than me face, which creates further guilt over feeling so challenged when I live such a privileged life.
In relation to this blog, the feeling manifests itself through conflict about what to post. There are always important events happening in the world from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings happening here in Halifax, to the unrest and threat of interventions in Syria, everyday something worthy of reflection happens, and everyday I'm confronted with emotions and thoughts that have nothing to do with anyone but me.
I struggle with the desire to at once be perceived as thoughtful and insightful, while also being completely honest about the mess that I sometimes am. Whether my words flow together coherently or not at the moment I'm unsure. What I am willing to recognize in this moment is that this is my truth and if I'm afraid to share it, then that sort of defeats the purpose of occupying this virtual space.
Recently I've been confronted by the notion that there cannot be political or personal movement without risk. In the class I'm sitting in on we watched a documentary called Fishing on the Brink. It focused on the occupation of DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) offices by inshore fishermen and women who supported them. The participants were protesting legislation that had the potential to favor large multinational corporations over locals who had been fishing in Nova Scotia for generations. Later in the day I went to a community meeting that addressed the hiring process for the executive director position at the Africville Heritage Trust. There had been controversy over a white woman from Ontario receiving the job. Articles about those events abound, here is one: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1057587. My position is one that many of the meeting attendees share, mainly that a person of African Nova Scotian background is best fit to redress the admitted racism involved in destroying the Africville community in the late 1960s. It would make me uncomfortable if an organization that aimed to redress sexist policies in the workplace decided that the best person to head that organization was a man, not because men can't or shouldn't be involved, but because the life experience of being a woman, of negotiating one's identity and career in our patriarchal and sexist society provides fundamental knowledge and skills that can't be learned out of a book. You need the life experience to best carry out the job and the same goes for the challenges Black people face in a society that let racism destroy the Africville community in the first place.
I went to see a play a couple of months ago by Shauntay Grant. It was very good and one of the lines that really stuck with me included the words:
"Only a decade into womanhood...."
It was repeated a couple of times with various endings to the sentence. At 28 years old, it really resonated with me, because in many ways, that's sort of where I am. A decade into womanhood and...still a bit lost, but finding my way.
Today I worked very hard to break a cycle. A cycle of unproductiveness, a cycle of self-doubt, a cycle of a lack of self-care. I wasn't completely successful, but I did interrupt the cycle at the very least. Upon re-reading that I felt bad for not giving myself credit for the work I do everyday to take care of my daughter, always falling short of perfection, but ever striving to protect, love, and support her. A cycle of self-criticism and self-doubt may lie under the surface often, but one thing is certain, my love and support of Aminata.
I write this post at the end of a long day after having done some cleaning that I didn't want to do, but needed to do to feel accomplished at SOMETHING, again see the above comment about re-reading. I tried really hard to not resent my partner in life for not cleaning for me. I wasn't that successful.
I'm a decade into womanhood and I still find myself making childish mistakes. Thankfully, I also find myself being reflective. I find myself capable of adapting and practiced enough at being a woman to know that I have a lot to learn from other women.
Only a decade into womanhood....and I have much more to do and say.
I've felt stuck for the last couple of days. Stuck in a cycle of being down on myself. I try to remind myself to be kind to me, but I'm falling a bit short. My goal though is to get out of this funk and figure out how to construct a more kind interpretation of myself.
It's Fall and new tv shows are in abundance. One of my favorite genres is Science Fiction. I could watch sci-fi b-movies all day, as long as they have at least some mystery to them.
One of my favorite authors is Octavia Butler. She wrote Parable of the Sower, among other novels and what I appreciate most about her work is the central role identity plays. Most sci-fi movies and novels, don't pay particular attention to how race, class, and gender (to a lesser extent) impact one's experiences. Butler constructs complex sci-fi narratives that reflect me, and my experiences. I love it, every futuristic, parallel universe, time traveling, post-apocalyptic hero is not white and male. I comment on this not because I dislike reading about characters who aren't culturally exactly like me, but because people of color are sometimes hard to find, especially in novels and its nice to not have to search.
Read it if you get the chance. It took me a while get into it, but once it gets going, you won't want to put it down. I can't wait to read Parable of the Talents, the next book in the series.
I am sitting in on a course at Dalhousie University. The class is called "Good Jobs, Bad Jobs". If there is a subject you are interested in, but haven't studied yet, I encourage everyone who can to sit in on classes at your local university. Most universities receive at least some public funding, they belong to the community as well as those who formally study and work there. You don't get the formal feedback of graded essays or tests, but you do get access to knowledge and a platform to express your thoughts. The endeavor is only free if the course books are at the library, but for $50 - $100 dollars you can expand your knowledge without the typical anxieties of taking a class or tuition.
The class is offered by the sociology department and primarily revolves around work and how its changed (and changing). While in class on Tuesday we discussed family work conflict and it raised a question for me.
How do women's career achievements affect kin stability? Now I made up the term kin stability to refer to the ways in which extended family and life-long neighbors/friends support the work family balance of working parents.
I had lunch with a friend today and I told her about my love for blog reading and blogging. She asked what my blog was about and it occurred to me I didn't know exactly what its about. It's not a journal in the daily account of my life way, but its not strictly political, religious, or mommy driven either.
Well what is it then? It's consistently personal. My silent reflections in a loud world. I want to remember why I write, even when I feel like no one hears me. So here's a throwback post for you and for me.
Which is more perplexing, engaging in formal modes of man sharing (e.g. being a "sister wife" in a polygamous family) or engaging in informal modes of man sharing (e.g. have a boyfriend/partner/"baby daddy"/ etc. that one shares with one or more other women)?
I had a conversation once with Dr. Redd, the director of the Women's Center at NU about man sharing. She was particularly concerned about the experiences of young Black women on college campuses who typically outnumber Black male students by 2 (sometimes 3) to one. Her experience with young women who thought sharing a man was better than no man at all during a life stage that is biologically geared toward establishing intimate relationships always stayed with me.
That conversation and tv shows like Big Love and the new TLC reality show Sister Wives make me wonder, which do I find more problematic.
As I'm sitting in church sometimes, I think:
"well that's one way to interpret it"
Certain things I have a hard time with. For instance, I'm going to need God, Godself to come and tell me why a y chromosome qualifies men to rule over women in the home, church, or elsewhere. But that's a subject for another day I suppose.
THIS Sunday, I sat in the pews and I felt like I got what our pastor was saying. She said its not in God's character to be good. God IS good.
Every smile on my daughter's face, every cool breeze on a hot day, every person in my life who loves and supports me, every good thing I know or experience is not only because of God, but IS God.
I'm working my way through the gospels now, trying to truly know God's word before I go around questioning it. There are certain writers that I know it will be hard for me to read (*angry fist wave at Paul*), but I'm trying. Even in my doubt, I suppose what pushes me forward is the part of me that knows God IS good, in the face of famine, war, hardship, and sadness, God is still and will ever remain the good that somehow reaches us, even in our darkest hour.
Relatedly, every act of goodness and kindness we do, is a reflection of God's presence in us, what better a way to let God's light shine through us, than by doing as much good as we can?
My husband and I watched Sounder for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Nathan Lee, the father character had a line that I really liked. He said:
"This school is something you need, something that's good for you, like... good air to breathe."
Education is that serious, that important, that essential I thought. While I'm sure there is much more for me to learn from Paulo Freire, I really like his perspective on how education can be used to liberate (or bind) the oppressed.
As I reflect on how I've been involved in the education of others I wonder whether I was a liberating or binding force. Ultimately I suspect the answer is a little bit of both, hopefully tilting at least ever so slightly to the liberating side. My intention was certainly to be a positive helpful force in the lives of my students and colleagues, but life is more complicated than theory leaves room for sometimes, our imperfections and lack have consequences.
I write this with a cold, so its hard to take in a good breath of air. I imagine, this feeling is similar to the experience of those who've never had access to quality education. Regardless of whether there is an abundance of opportunities to learn in the United States (or Canada), if you don't have access to it, and can't fully appreciate it, then you might not think its all that special...
Hopefully I'll get another chance. A chance to do better, be better, for students, their parents, my community. As Nathan Lee also put it:
"Education is a tool to help your people." and I take that responsibility seriously.
While we were traveling a couple of months ago I heard the singer Adele's song Someone Like You for the first time. It's a heartache song about a love lost. The remarkable aspect of the song is how it speaks to a feeling of vulnerability and hurt that I think many people feel after a break up.
I have no idea what the actual relationship that inspired the song was like. I found it hilarious that the guy who broke her heart suggested that he should get credit/royalties for "inspiring" her album. At any rate after finding out that she wrote the song as a 20 year old (or something like that), it all started to make more sense to me.
I hear the song and I think of the 22 year old me who was feeling that way, and I wish I could tell her, don't fret. There is a partner, a husband, a life so much better than you could ever imagine waiting for you. Now all I need to find is the song that speaks to the "who knew life could be this good" feeling.