The imagery alone for this piece made me want to read it again and again.
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Musical Selection: L.T.D.|Holding On (When Love Is Gone)
I didn’t think he’d see me staring at him. I tried to fiddle with the People magazine in my hand — darted my eyes over the cuckoo clock above the Barista’s head.
He spotted me. And I couldn’t backpedal, couldn’t turn away fast enough. He was the color of pre-evening with onyx eyes and a James Earl Jones voice.
My entire body convulsed when he said, “I think you dropped this.” I looked down and he was holding my pen. I had been tackling a crossword puzzle, and the sleek writing tool must’ve escaped my grip when I saw him.
“I, uh … Yes, that’s mine.” I started tripping over my words. What was I doing?! Where was my head? I dragged the pen from his grip.
“I’m Loyal.” He extended his very manicured right hand to me.
“Um … I’m trustworthy.”
He giggled. I heard cherubs singing. I hadn’t caught the humor until he casually said, “No. Loyal is my name. Loyal Manor.”
His hand was still waiting for mine. I slapped it nervously, cupped it, then gave it two quick shakes.
“Oh! Oh! Haha. My apologies. I’m Grace … Grace Baron. It’s nice to meet you, Loyal.”
I glanced over at the Barista, who flawlessly prepares my order daily, and she flashed me a wink.
“Well, I’ll let you get back to your puzzle, Grace. Will you be here tomorrow?”
“WILL I?! I mean … Sure, I’ll be here.”
The dimple in his left cheek made my acquaintance, and I became as giddy as a schoolgirl. Everything about Loyal was smooth as a cup of pour-over coffee, and I wanted to learn more about him.
“Okay, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, Grace Baron.”
“Uh huh. Yes. Yes, you will.”
He turned to exit the building, and I knew it was rude to watch, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
The Barista tipped her hat in my direction, and flashed me another wink. The server bought me a second cup of coffee and patted my hand. A piece of paper bounced off my knuckles.
There, on a strawberry-scented blueprint piece of stationery, was Loyal’s phone number.
A Prose Poem/Rant
Every other day, there’s a post sent to my LinkedIn feed telling me I must “have more than one income stream” in order to be successful. If I want to increase my income by $10K, I should, “connect more on social media, and build a brand.” The movers and thinkers are too busy moving and thinking, and I can’t get anyone to stop and hear what I’m saying.
Life is a rat race.
Powerful voices are buried
amongst the noise.
It’s success purgatory,
and the only way to land
your dream job is to
jump through every hoop
thrown at you at 100 mph.
I am covered in shitty articles, up to my neck in “This isn’t what we’re looking for, but better luck next time” and the world is a spinning shit-bucket waiting for a cleansing only the strong can provide. I am losing strength.
How can I, in my exhausted state, be expected to hustle more? Whatever happened to one’s work speaking for them? Whatever happened to authenticity and vulnerability luring people in? There are so many look-alikes prancing around the literary industry, I have no clue where one stops and the other begins.
Influencers share their highs,
deny their lows, and request
immediate funds for the
video you just watched you
clicked on a whim.
This is the world in which
we live. It is a hustle culture,
and everyone’s trying to
out-hustle the other.
And for what?
Some shit you can’t take
to the grave with you?
I had a conversation with a journalist friend of mine who says he’s so tired of all the work he has to do in order to stay above water. Why are people with REAL talent drowning in “the sea of same”, pigeon-holed to what’s hot, trendy, and new, and if they even think about pivoting away from the metric, they’re given their walking papers? From where did this bottomless pit of pithy perturbation originate? Who signed the approval papers? I need to speak to their manager.
I’m not here for the hustle,
I’m here for the art.
If that stunts my potential
to fulfill my dream, I’ll
take those odds.
I’d rather share what’s in
my heart than to
cookie cutter my words
only to have some top-notch
editor pass them off as
suitable enough to catapult
I’ve got my own voice,
and I’m using it.
Originally published on Medium.
Getting through a tragic week without breaking down
I don’t need to say it. You don’t need me to say it. Getting through this past week has been hard. Our nation had already experienced one mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, May 14, 2022, only to have yet another stop us dead in our tracks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Just 10 days later. I have no clue how you have handled dealing with or processing these two events, but for me, they have been racing rapidly through my mind and the ache from each is still strong.
I floated through most of the week, trying to find my footing — trying to make sure I could perform at my highest during work hours. I maintained a calm demeanor. I handled each call I took effectively and efficiently, according to the requests that had been made. There were moments when I had to say several silent prayers to push me through, but I made it through my workweek unscathed and alive to share this newsletter.
I saw this moment without completely breaking down. How did I do that? How was I able to stay afloat above the raging waters and vicious seas? Who was my life raft? I am so thankful for a supportive and loving group of people in my life who make their presence known — who sense my sadness. Without them, I am almost certain I could not press forward on the extremely hard days life hands out occasionally.
It’s been one hell of a week, but I’m still here.
My therapist knows I am emotionally free, and she doesn’t suppress it.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the same day as the most recent tragic incident, I kept my therapy session. Knowing it would be at a later hour that night (7:00 p.m.) after work and settling into the evening, I had to build up the energy to log on virtually to meet with her. I am still not comfortable venturing out to her office. Call me crazy, senseless, whatever label you deem necessary to choose, but my comfort level is best at home, and at home is where most of my therapy sessions take place now.
I need to be comfortable these days — I crave it, more so than I have in the past.
We began the session with me discussing what had taken place in the last few months as I had seen her on an “as-needed basis,” but it has become clear I need to pursue my once or twice per month sessions. Speaking about my cousin’s death, then my aunt’s, followed by this nation’s tragic events, sent shivers up my spine. I waded through intense moments of crying and finally got to a point where I could talk about my growth during all of this — how I feel my cousin with me — how I know she is still here.
I talked about my cousin’s ways of loving — how she’d loved me and helped me so much during her short time on earth. I talked about the guidance I received, the advice, the strong opinions she had, and how we bounced ideas off of each other. I talked about her powerful presence, her love of children, and how anyone she came in contact with was left smiling — forever changed by her.
It is still hard to speak about my aunt. There had been so many years that had passed since I last saw her and every year between us was, “I’ve got to come and see you” or “I need to visit you where you are now,” and it never occurred. We allowed the miles between us to stay exactly that — miles between us. We did not move to close the distance, if only momentarily. And this is what I grapple with mostly — losing her without seeing her one more time.
As I cried and wiped my eyes, my therapist — although usually stoic — was shedding pieces of herself I hadn’t seen before. I apologized at one point because I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing and she said in a gentle tone to me, “Don’t you dare apologize — feel what you are feeling.” And I did. It was wholly and completely rejuvenating. Not to say that I still don’t cry in my aloneness here at home, no … I do from time to time, but to shed some of this weight in the presence of a professional listening ear was pertinent. It was what I needed, and I didn’t know it.
Another holiday is before us and I miss my people more.
With Memorial Day fast approaching, I feel the pain of these losses so much more. Each holiday that has passed since my cousin’s death (St. Patrick’s Day, Easter/My birthday, and her wedding anniversary) heightens my awareness of the finality of death, and it is a hard pill to swallow. No one could have prepared me for the extremely hard days. No one could have told me just how badly I would feel experiencing these significant days without her.
Death dates are now a part of my vocabulary. I speak in dates — when someone was living — when they died; what happened in between. Holidays are reminders of a loved one’s physical presence and form wiped away from my life. They all are merging into one — a day everyone knows about and celebrates, but I will mourn from this moment forward.
Knowing this truth, I believe it will be much more important to continue to be surrounded by family and close friends, which is why I visited my mom today. A few hours with her keeps me on my toes. The woman is a strong tower — being a holder of her past; I am aware of what my mom had to endure, and how she has conquered so much. We can be in the same room now and truly enjoy one another’s company. This only arrived with time and understanding and going through some heartache, pain, struggles, and rough periods myself.
We may have some differences, as I am sure most mother-daughter pairs do, but I am grateful for where we are now. I look forward to the upcoming holiday knowing that I will have her to call, at least, to share a significant date in time with — if only for a few moments.
I am a resilient person.
I have been through many things and I will go through many more, and if it is the Lord’s will, I will survive those things too, and come out on top. I believe this. What do you believe about yourself?
I will leave you with a quote that gave me pause — made me dwell on what I have, what I had, and what I might gain in life.
This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel. — Horace Walpole
Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.
See you next Saturday.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room Newsletters via LinkedIn.
MUSICAL SELECTION: GIL SCOTT-HERON|WINTER IN AMERICA
When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you
I am a purposed woman. I know I have a purpose. I am inclined to believe we all have a purpose. However, I struggle to recognize, grasp, and embrace exactly what my purpose is. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I can tell you all the things that make me uncomfortable and put me in deep states of anxiousness, yet I can’t quite place a finger on a solitary thing to cause me to erupt more than something else. I have faults and flaws — upswings and downswings — brave moments and fearful ones. I am a walking contradiction who lives down the street from super-inflated candidness wrapped in a slice of humility.
The seasons blur. I cannot find my way through spring shifted from winter second-removed from autumn or passed down by summer. Every season carries its own pain and its own special directness as they enter my realm. Who should I be now? What should I learn today? Where will any of this lead me four to five years from now?
It is the tail-end of spring and the birds sing their joyous songs just outside my window — a congregation of like minds willing to harmonize their thoughts and feelings.
When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you.
I tell myself this . . . that birdsong is God’s feathered creatures sharing their heart. Am I a great keeper of it? Can they trust me with it? I am not a bird person, per se, but I enjoy listening to their musical offerings. I carry their songs with me throughout the day. Sometimes, they are the only thing that can lift me out of a frigid mood — warm my soul. These days, I’ll take what I can get.
I have a mean gift of gab — I do.
If I am not willing to point out what I do well, who will? Without boasting or sounding arrogant, I remind myself occasionally, “You are an incredible words-worker. You can create anything using words.” And I can. I have. I hope to continue to do so as each year passes, but the world is shifting from what it used to be, and I fear many of us no longer want to sit with words. We want to be spoonfed by two-minute reels of one’s forty-year timeline or audiobook everything, including the Bible. We want the diet version of a memoir and the cliff notes to epic poetry and . . . I fear I will move out of my league with this new normal.
But, I have a mean gift of gab. I can land a poetic punch or comedic comeback in a heartbeat and not blink an eye. One thing I love most about working from home is sharing with my co-workers via Teams. At roughly about 11:10 a.m. every workday, one of my Workforce Managers will tag me in a Teams group chat casually blaming me for the call queue increasing because I took a break. I, of course, upon returning from break, will see my name tagged with the statement of blame and our tit for tat in comedic exchanges will begin.
Several co-workers will say in the chat, “I wait for this every morning! It’s one of the reasons I’m excited to log on!” or “Y’all two are so funny. This is better than my soaps.” I have to admit, on some days, this same Workforce Manager will give me a run for my money via a verbal comedic lashing, and I’ll humbly bow out. If I had to guess, though, I’d say we’re neck and neck.
But these exchanges and how good they make my co-workers feel are reminders of what I have done and can do with the English language.
I motivate others to be better versions of themselves
When I am at my highest level of confidence, I can motivate others to be better versions of themselves. It is not finger-pointing, and it is most definitely not, “Look at what I did — you can do it, too!” It is more like me simply listening to them, knowing what they can do and how often they have overcome obstacles to get where they are in life, and reminding them of this. It is me sounding a bullhorn in their ear that they have the power to be exactly who they wish to be. They must recognize it.
I take what I say to them and turn it back on to myself as well. I am not a stranger to self-reflection or honing in on integrity. We all have a little of something in us others want — they may even need it, and most times, it makes them happy for us to share whatever that little something is.
I struggle with my gifts and talents — with believing in myself
Knowing all that I know about myself and how I operate, I still struggle with believing completely in myself — with feeling as though I can be more — do more; provide more for my life. I have goals I would still like to meet and I aspire to be a better version of myself, too, but the weight of the world and some of my negative thoughts can create a conflict within me, and I play tug of war with myself.
Although I’ve been down the road of my life and have seen my many accomplishments, there is always this nagging voice poking its way into my thoughts if ever I stumble upon a new idea. It creepily says, “Are you sure you can do this?” And sometimes it gets rude with its statement and spits a, “But you’ve already failed at this before” at me, and I stutter-step with my next moves. It is up to me to continue to pour positive energy into this being of mine as I grow older — as I seek opportunities out there I know are meant for me.