Someone asked me what was on my mind the other day...
I guess I had a far away look on my face.
I said, "nothing"...They didn't believe me and that was fine.
However, it was absolutely true.
When I left them and was walking all alone I smiled thinking of my great new ability to have not one solitary thing on my mind.
It was like magic.
I continued walking while attempting to turn off and on the voice in my head and I realized that I had it. S E L F C O N T R O L.
It wasn't always like this. I was just in a really rough place a couple months ago. I'm talking slight anxiety and a little mental anguish. I wanted only to stay in bed. You see, I've been digging up the past for a project and I stumbled upon a few memories that was weighing heavily on my mind. One in particular that really made me question everything for a little bit. So, I beat myself up for a couple of hours. How could I let this one particular thing happen to me as an adult? How could I still be nice to this person? I realized there had been countless things over the course of time and I went wild. Luckily, I was home alone and I just threw myself into the feeling. I texted my friend, LaToya because she gives great advice during times like these. I knew I couldn't speak on the phone, but she was able to stop my hysteria through written word. I was grateful. I decided to calm down. Take a nap. I woke up feeling similar. Shit was just shitty. Not everything, but some that I really needed to change. Seriously this time and I knew it. My body was sore, my mind too. Stress was still too close and at that time I couldn't mask it. So, I went back to bed.
It was strangely warm in the month of October.
Some days the sun shone on us.
Some days it rained.
My heart was heavy either way.
The quarantine was still happening.
I'd also been summoned back to work on a hybrid schedule, which was good, because I wouldn't completely lose the all day safety of my own home all together.
The election was well under weigh and I couldn't really tell who was going to win. This also made me want to throw up at the mere thought that we'd have the same president for another four years. Black people might be somehow forced back into a new form of segregation/slavery/Jim Crow and all women would become Wives, Aunts, Marthas or Handmaids (that's a book reference). I was terrified.
I was tired and on top of all that, I have to continue being an excellent mom and a good co-parent, which I somehow have confused as being Sir's part time best friend. Also, don't forget to stay glued to my phone and laptop for work.
Everything in me was screaming H E L P.
This auto immune disease has a way of not allowing me to move past certain things some days. I watch everyone else moving so freely. Coming and going as they please. I needed to get back to that. But how? The summer was so good. I think. I can't really remember now, but I had to get back to it.
I credit a handful of things:
- Spending lots of time alone.
- Not letting certain things and people annoy me.
- I practice gratitude all day long or whenever I think of it.
- I listen to the Calm App and meditate.
- I get adequate sleep.
- When I have something that I don't want to do, I just focus on following each step until it's all done.
When I am not doing these things, I'm doing all the others that I love.
We'll start with A R T.
After one night of bombing, I mean fireworks, there was a loud thump in the darkness of my room and then ten minutes later, there was another. It was two pictures that hung over my desk. They'd fallen. I decided that I would paint something myself and replace them. I started fiddling around with these new cool paint markers (POSCA Pens). I had just bought them and love them. I started painting a collection of my own art that didn't look too juvenile and people actually wanted it. Now, a piece of my mind, feelings, the stroke of a brush from my fingertips are hanging or leaning in other people's homes.
I wasn't super thrilled with those so I decided to slow down and take my time with every other painting thereafter.
Then, I repainted my friend, Brandi and her whole family.
Then, I painted some more.
It created a level of patience and peace in me that I wasn't even aware of, but I needed more.
I couldn't figure out how to give myself a hug. I couldn't bother my son for them all the time whenever I needed one. So, I made myself a sweater. It took quite some time to complete. Even with a pattern, I was stitching and then unraveling so much, I thought I'd never get there. I can't say I liked the way the first one turned out, but I tried it on and fell asleep in it and it was the best comfort I'd known in a long time. They all have had errors along the way; At times I missed a stitch or the arms were too long. However, I didn't give up, continued to make more and this is what I came up with...
Still...the feeling haunted me.
I was so anxious about old feelings some days I thought I would be sucked away from the core of me. I never was. I just slowly realized that I had to keep saying no to a lot of things. Often. I had to go all the way back to the first original hurt that I could remember. I had to find little Jas and rescue her. Not even sure if this makes sense. I don't care. I had to think about my Grandmother, her mother, and hers. I had to think of my own. I had to think of my sisters and my nieces...they were the only company that I could accept at the time. I had to break all the way down. Had to unravel myself. I was tested all summer. Even my old best friend popped up out of the blue. I saw her after not seeing her for over a decade in the middle of a pandemic. She hurt me so hard way back when, I ate it and it never came out. Until then. She was accompanied by her daughter and their family dog. Her daughter was so kind as was her puppy and I almost did the thing that I do. Overlook a clear problem and let it sit in my lap, but her daughter looked too much like my very first adult boyfriend. So, I decided to walk away. Old people kept showing up like I was somehow calling them right out of my mental. Always a constant reminder of the past, Sir was always hot on my heels. He's always been here, so there's no real healing there. I needed to learn how to figure out how to be all the good things without ruining myself. Without ruining my son. I've made so many mistakes along the way, but he's almost seventeen and what I call phase one is almost over. He'll be away at college and it will just be me taking care of myself. I've decided not to date seriously until then. There's too many other things to focus on.
So, I've decided to give myself second by second G R A C E.
I went back to the basic steps:
- No Annoyances
I found two groups outside of my regular facebook group (You know who you are and I'm grateful for you all daily). One is a crochet group and the other is a group of black women who love to cook and bake. My sister, Chelsea put me onto the latter. If you are not in a group with or surrounded by black women and you are a black woman, find one quickly and let them love you. That culinary group is like a breath of fresh air. It gets me out of my head while I try to get my head together.
I found my regular solace in books. All summer I slowly made my way through this masterpiece...
Now, I'm nose deep in my family project that I started months ago. The other day my son and I painted and remodeled his entire room so that he could have a more grown up and cozy spaceand I found a book that my friend, Joyce gave me about ten years ago. It has brought me so much joy, I can't even put it into proper words, it's just a feeling that lives inside me and I'm trying to feed it.
I know you can't tell, but this book is so big and it smells like an old public library. It even has a checkout card pocket with dates going back to 1988. Thank you Joycie.
In addition, I'm also reading:
While I was painting or driving here's what I was listening to...
- King's Disease, Nas
- The Album, Teyana Taylor
- Chill Beats Music Playlist (Tidal) apparently, all streaming services has one.
- Here Comes The Sun Again Playlist (Tidal) this came out after the Biden/Harris Presidential win :)
- Take Time, Giveon when I wanted to sleep in sadness. This album was perfect for that.
- ALICIA, Alicia Keys A special thanks to Jasmine Ashby for making me listen :)
These shows really helped take me to another place and time...
High Fidelity (Hulu)
First of all, you can't play a song for me and not expect me to listen to the words and incorporate them into my actual life. If by chance I am in love and it is in accordance, it will be embedded in me for a lifetime. I'm too much in my own head for anything less. Which is why I love Zoe Kravitz, more so in this role as Robin than any other that she has played before. She's the most self-sabotaged and vulnerable character that is inside most of us. Kingsley Ben-Adir and Da-Vine Joy Randolf are also wonderful to watch on the screen. The entire cast is actually quite perfect IMO. The music selection is impeccable.
History 101 (Netflix)
An amazingly informative ten part series about the basics of history as we know it. This includes fast food, outer space, the rise of China, the pros and cons of plastics, oil and the Middle east, robots, feminism, nuclear power, the AIDS epidemic and genetics.
Daughters of Destiny (Netflix)
What a sentimental series about Indian girls who are chosen to study at the Shanti Bhavan School which allows them a better opportunity than the life and class that they were born into. All the girls touched my heart, but Thenmozhi was my favorite child in the series. She goes through the challenges of being the child in her family chosen for Shanti Bhavan. She actually suffers from dyslexia and homesickness. Anytime she returns home on break, you get to witness the life she seems far removed from, the life she once knew.
What is there to say about Insecure that the world doesn't already know? Just watch how Issa juggles, her private life, her friendships and her new career.
I May Destroy You (HBO)
This comedy/drama had me rewatching episodes and when I finally got through the season I went back again and watching it all over from the beginning. Arabella is a hot new author who's trying to write a follow-up novel that's just as good as her first. The only thing she lacks is the focus. On the eve that her second novel is due, she gets sexually assaulted in a nightclub. Life is never the same. Go on a journey with her as she goes through the motions of trying to find out who, what, when, how and why.
Love Craft Country (HBO)
If you are looking for adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this series is a cross between American Horror Story, a splash of Indiana Jones and a twist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With a cast that includes Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, Courtney B. Vance, Michael K. Williams, Aunjanue Ellis and more...it's safe to say it's the black version.
It was an obsession in August, September and October. If you have not seen it and you are not a scaredy-cat, binge watch it. To sum it up...it's a story based in the 1950's about a soldier who comes home to Chicago, because his father is missing and he goes in search of him and in addition, the family's missing legacy. Which seems to have been stolen from them by some pretty shady characters. If you are afraid of magic, monsters, ghouls and goblins still watch. You won't regret it. OH! Guess what? There's also a podcast with the same title name. Listen to that too for all the inside scoop.
- Unorthodox (Netflix)
- Wadjah (Netflix)
- Margaret Atwood: A word After A Word After A Word (Hulu)
- Strong Island (Netflix)
- Crown Heights (Amazon Prime)
This documentary deserved a separate mention since I watched it three times last week and I may watch it again. Excuse me, I'm kind of a nerd. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't get enough of books. Although I've been reading all my life, I'm convinced that I'm not reading the correct books at the right time. Also, I don't know enough about the classics. Is this the plight of half of the readers out there in the world? And too, I've decided that I need to go to a book fair. I'll start with the ones in my area. I live in New York City and it couldn't hurt to get a little education before I go. Enter this behind the scenes look at the literary world. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Seriously, collecting may be my calling. The music, the auctions, the independent bookstores and private libraries large and small blew my mind and kept a smile on my face. OH!!! They did a segment on Hip Hop and guess who's the first rapper mentioned...? Yes, Mr. Nasir Jones (1:18:43). Catch this documentary. Do it on a beautiful gloomy day. There's a funny at the very end if you sit through the credits like I do.
Needless to say, I've been busy.
So, really there hasn't been much time to wallow in whatever it was that I was going through. I still had to acknowledge it's presence though. That way, I'll know the signs in case it tries to return. Over time, hopefully it will dissipate. For now, when I'm feeling even slightly stressed, I practice not thinking about the problem or the feeling. I just sit, close my eyes and breathe as easily as I can. For as long as I can. Then, I follow the six steps:
- No Annoyances
Try them. I promise it works.
L O V E, Jas