Every Saturday, I will share three things that I believe to be the simple things in life, yet things that make me extremely happy. I invite you to do the same.
1. elderly couples still in love
2. the mountains
3. peaceful, quiet moments
Now, it’s your turn! Share with me (in the comments), three simple things in life that make you happy. Please reblog, share this post, and give others a smile and a little bit of love. If you reblog the post, pleaseping or tag my blog and use the words “Simple Things” and “Happy” as your blog entry tags.
Are you ready, folks? Can we keep the love flowing by sharing the simple things that make us happy? This is our The Simple Things Share Post #6. Have fun and let the happiness begin!
She placed her cold hands on the blue of her fur coat — enraptured by the clouds’ sadness, she felt her heart move in and out of time. He was supposed to meet her there. They agreed. Time. Date. Place. She was there. He wasn’t. Where could he be? She thought to call him, maybe he needed a reminder — a nudge. The wind bit her cheeks with its presence — stuck in place, she dreaded the feeling coming over her. Is she being stood up again?
wrapped in stunning blue
her cold hands hugged her body
biting wind kissed her
The sun peeked in on her. It nodded in her direction, shone a powerful ray her way, and stepped back behind the clouds. She picked up her phone. She pressed 3, held down the number for three seconds, and watched his name appear on her screen. She’d call. He’d answer. They’d discuss things again. Time. Date. Place. He’d calmly explain how he was busy and seemingly forgot about their date. She’d hear someone in the background, a woman’s voice. She’d know — instantly, she’d know. There is no room for her.
the perks of speed dial
a convenience she needed
to find out the truth
An amusement park date. Just like during her teenage years . . . Danny Simpkins said to meet him there then. Bring a towel, your favorite sneakers, fireworks, and a flashlight, he said. She arrived fifteen minutes early. She had everything she needed and what he wanted. She waited. And waited. And waited. Danny Simpkins did show up, but with someone else — Tori Barksdale, the most popular girl in school. She watched him pepper the ground with his hot steps. Her eyes turning on her. Her heart, a sack of doomsday. She felt her world ending.
silly boys break hearts
unaware of life’s deep pain
girls pick up pieces
She thought back to those days and remembered how she vowed to never let her heart break into a million pieces again. She was older. She was stronger. She knew how to remove herself from a situation before it could shake her down and melt her into a puddle of pain. Around her, children cheered on the carousel. Their little voices loud enough to pop her eardrums. This was her place of renewal. She would be okay. She would go on. She would know another Danny Simpkins and Travis Calloway on sight.
a pact she had claimed —
to love herself so much more
and grow from the pain
Now, she watches the moon open its eyes. The night air creeps in coolly, nestled behind the sway of the trees. She pulls her coat tighter, presses the fur closest to her skin, and dreams of disappearing. “I hope she never feels the way I do. I hope he keeps his promises to her.” She thought this to herself — empathetic to the woman’s heart because she knows what pain feels like; what a broken heart needs in order to mend. Funny, she’s had to break herself down and build herself up over and over again. She was just like that amusement park.
each year, some new fun
gone again until the fall
amusement for all.
Originally published in P.S. I Love You via Medium. Shared is the “Friend Link” since this is a Medium paywall piece. Thank you for reading.
There are some gritty parts of me that I find, of late, bring me no pleasure to share. Isn’t that what this is all about, though? Releasing, removing everything from the system that clings to the depths of my bowels and makes it hard for me to handle life accordingly? I can vocalize this now without actually sly-giggling while I state it, but I have a problem with relinquishing control, especially if I feel a situation at hand will crumble if I do not have my hands somewhere in the mix. Ego knows when the right time is upon it. I take on quite a bit of responsibility, but I always have. I am the eldest child, the first great-grandchild and grandchild on both sides, so naturally, I was given the green light to make a few decisions before I truly knew what decision-making was. The problem is, that stuck . . . And it did so a little too well.
Ego knows when the right time is upon it.
While speaking to my therapist during our last session, I informed her that I can feel a lot of tension fall away from me because I am letting things go — things of which I have no control. There have been so many events that have happened recently that would have seriously made me break or lose my cool, but for some odd reason, I am regaining balance. I want to say that I can pinpoint when it took place, but really, I cannot. I just know that it feels good. At work, I am one of the “go-to people” and when I am not there, things do not typically flow the way they should. But, I feel the brunt of it too whenever anyone is out or away from work. We are all a part of a great team and each of us brings something incredible to our facility. We play our roles and we play them well.
What has been hardest for me, recently, is separating work-life from home-life because I have begun to get rather close to my teammates. So when the workday ends, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am no longer in touch with the members of my team. When one works closely with others for over a year, bonds take place — feelings mature. You become sad if something happens to one of them, if they’re ill, have been in a car accident, or if the stressors of life begin to wear them down. I am learning to feel what I need to feel for them but to not feel like I have to solve their problems or find a solution.
Some things do not require our input.
And in learning this, I can continue to move forward with self-care and self-love. It is not my duty to hold the hands of my adult loved ones. It is not expected of me to center around them and jump onto every little case that causes a bit of friction in their lives. I have to learn to step out of the way and only be available when asked — if asked. Some things do not require our input. They simply require us to be present in that moment when we need to know what is going on and nothing more. Making room to pull this piece of me away from my skin is opening up new doors for me to be able to focus on self-care and self-love more. But, it will take time — years, I am certain.
My therapist notices that I would rather handle someone else’s problems and ease their pain than willingly acknowledge mine and work on regaining my own balance. I admitted to her that it is easier to help someone else than to help myself. That I have been in the nurturer/caretaker role for a very long time and this — this taking care of myself, is all relatively new to me. Taking time away from work to go on adventures, mini-vacations to places on my bucket list, and to spend time away from the electronic devices that can cripple me have been the best methods in ushering me to a place of centeredness and understanding.
I want to understand how to better care for myself but not to completely shut out or cut off the problems of others. The hard thing is finding a happy medium. When is it okay to step in? Is it ever okay to step in to ease someone else’s burden or pain? Should I wait until asked or use my heart to continue to guide me to know when the time is best? I like to say, that “I am a flawed piece of life still learning how to live,” and there is much truth in that statement. The quiet space of my therapist’s office is the circle of openness that I need. I am shedding and although it is scary, this is necessary. We are not meant to remain the same throughout our lives. Age ages. It keeps going and I am making it a point to go along with it — to grow along with it.
“I am a flawed piece of life still learning how to live.”
None of it is easy. I have turned the mirror on me and who I see when I stare into it is a beautiful being who needs tender love and care. I also see someone who can be so much more if she pushes fear to the side. The main thing is the fear of noticing how much of me needs changing — how much pruning I require in order to stand up straight and sway passionately in the sunlight. I take at least an hour or two out of my day and I read. I unplug. No television. No cell phone usage. No laptop or desktop usage. I simply sit in silence or I read. Is it helping to shape me into a better person? I think so. I feel as though the opportunity to embrace peace and quiet daily when my world is so full of noise is going to further help me on my journey.
“You have to know when to let go, Tre. The sooner you do this, the easier it will be.”
Her final words to me during our last session — the light that needed to be shined on my face still stings . . . “You have to know when to let go, Tre. The sooner you do this, the easier it will be.” I am fully aware of my path and I know it will be hard to stay on it, but I want to move forward. I just hope that what I see of me as months pass will pull me closer into loving me instead of shifting me even further away.
Sara is an incredible young one and has been along this ride in A Cornered Gurlsince I made the announcement to open it up to all Writers on Medium this past January. She is also a Young Mind of Medium and she and I have collaborated over the last three years on three projects and with each piece, I learn a bit more from her. To answer July’s challenge, Sara shared a letter she wrote for her boss who would be leaving her place of work to experience new endeavors. He was her inspiration.
In Goodbye (Well, Technically), Sara shows exactly why it is important to let those who inspire us know it. She shares her heart and she does it without being overly emotional. She is incredibly sound in her work and this is an indicator of that. And here, we have it–the reason for her feature:
Goodbye (Well, Technically) Young Minds of Medium Inspiration Call
The greatest boss I will ever know has left. Here’s to you, boss.
Hey (well, now former) Boss,
I didn’t say much when you dropped the bomb that you were leaving, but I know that what I’m thinking and writing deserves some sunlight.
When you said you didn’t want to put our jobs in jeopardy I understood how much of a role model you’ve been to me. I may not understand the entirety of the drama you were involved in, but I have an understanding of the sacrifices you made for your family and us. I have always trusted that you would make the right decisions for yourself, and that trust hasn’t faltered.
Since you’re no longer a constant factor at work, there are some secrets and “thank you’s” I would love to disclose. For starters, during my interview, I faked all of it. I had tried to look up some potential interview questions that would have done better elsewhere, but I magically came up with answers, like in an SAT-pick-the-best-option kind of way, and prayed that they were the ones you were hoping for. I was super lucky and started working the next week.
Hilariously enough, I never thought I would end up in childcare; I used to think that I would never want to work with kids. The only reason I applied to work here was because I didn’t want to work in a bank, which was what my mom had suggested since she made the same move as a young adult. Now that I want to stay for as long as possible, I realize how wrong I was about kids. So as my first “thank you”, thank you for giving me a chance. I definitely don’t think I made the strongest first impression, but you were still willing to take me in, and now I realize I’m better at talking to kids more than adults.
I haven’t turned into my mom in a lot of ways, but when it comes to working through conflicts I have only seen my mom yell so I came into this job with the same tactic. However, I’ve always known that I don’t want to be that way. After seeing you work your magic, your modeling has meant everything to me, and I continually impress myself with how much I’ve improved at talking. Thank you for pulling me out of that rut and for showing me what communication should look like.
Of course, my next “thank you” goes to last year, and I know you know what I’m talking about. I don’t think I ever thanked you properly for helping me keep my head above water, and that was wrong of me. I admit that at some point I contemplated quitting because dealing with the stress was like trying to contain a tsunami in a container, and the uncertainty of how long it would last was an overwhelming thought. It was a test of our emotional resilience and we both came out on top. Thank you for believing me even when I didn’t believe myself. Thank you for being there, for listening, and thank you for staying. I had a small idea of what you were dealing with on your end, and I’m sorry you had to deal with it, too. But seriously, thank you . . . Just thank you.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had and heard a lot of thoughts on everything that has happened and despite it all, I am positive that you will find something else in which to excel. There is a legacy you’ve stamped on this place and none of us want to erase it. It will be impossible not to compare the new director to you; the new guy has impossible shoes to fill. Thank you for working with us, for sticking it out as long as you did. For you, we will remain resilient.
Finally, there’s something else you’ve said that I have remembered: if you could sleep at night, then you knew you made the right decision. I’ve decided if you can sleep at night, then so can I.
Thank you for always reminding us that we’re the ones with the ball in our court, I wish you the best of luck in everything!
Three men: each of them I have known for more than fifteen years, all of them close to me. I love them. I try my best to understand them. I want nothing more than to always support them. And I pray that this world sees the beauty in them just as I do. I thought, “How can I have the world listen to them for several minutes? What can I do to gift someone other than myself the opportunity to get a glimpse of walking in their shoes?” The idea that turned into the words you see before you is this: ask them poignant, in-depth questions about being men of color in this world today and see where it takes us. This is the result.
I began the conversation with Dré talking about my weaknesses and what I expect of myself during therapy. “Some things, I am just not ready to discuss, you know? It’s heavy and I’d spend most of the session crying. I don’t want that . . . I felt like I’d waste her time and I know I wouldn’t, it’s just the way my brain works.”
“That’s actually a part of therapy.” He says this candidly — knowingly.
I take a moment to let it sink in, but don’t quite catch on. “Which is? Wasting time or crying? LOL!”
“No, talking about your issues and crying.”
It is one thing to be free, vulnerable, and open, but it is another to appear weak. Or, at least made to feel as though you are weak because you cannot hold back tears. In the case of the “strong black woman,” the myth is that we do not cry. We do not have time for crying. We cannot let ourselves appear weak. There are walls that need to be held up, maintained, balanced . . . Who has time for the walls to come tumbling down?
“I cry at home.” I am uncomfortable crying in front of others. I have a problem releasing when someone else is around. I like to think that this is because a few of my teenage years were spent in a space full of young boys and a mother who almost NEVER cried in front of us. There was a mask to wear and all of us wore it well. He saw right through me.
“But, that’s like hiding, still, in a sense.”
“It kinda is, but it feels like being free. I felt a sense of comfort being able to just cry and be at home. Home is therapy, too.”
I sit with his words on how I am probably still hiding. This man, my close friend has overcome so much and stands tall in the face of adversity. I know he is right, there is no denying it. I must find a way to completely remove my shell. How does it feel to have nearly ten years stripped away from you — to be wrongly accused of something? To miss out on the world as you fight for your life in a caged environment? I have learned to lean in a bit closer when he has something to say. We segue into a discussion about his life after enduring obstacles and hurdles from his past. While reading his words, I could feel his relief.
“So far, what would you say is your biggest achievement in life?”
“I don’t know. Maybe surviving prison, coming home, becoming a husband and father, even a deacon.”
Now that we are adults and closer to forty and no longer eight years old, our experiences create much of who we are — our grit, our need to survive, and maintaining our sanity. His, even more so because of his background (wrongly accused and incarcerated for nearly ten years) that was given to him when we were teenagers without his consent. Not once has he made an excuse for his past, he has only worked harder and longer than anyone else I know. Dré, he is his own Central Park 5 and I hear him.
I know men who do not use many words but say a lot with the words they use; men who make me think harder than I’d like to because I spend much of my time trying to speak louder than them. When you have had to yell for much of your adolescence in order to be heard, you become accustomed to either shouting or cowering when it is time to speak. I do not have to with the bonds that I have created with them. I hear them. They hear me. We simply are who we are.
Upon reaching out to Vic, I found that he has used the tools he learned in therapy to increase his sense of growth and understanding in life. He knows where he stands and he is secure in his skin. We discuss briefly what his takeaways are from therapy and how his experiences mirror mine.
“How has therapy benefited you?”
“It has given me the tools to see myself from outside myself. Through having to talk honestly, which is hard to do, about moments in my life. Therapy has helped me to connect the dots and see the patterns. From there, I can spot when the ego has stepped into the driver’s seat and have the wherewithal to dial it back. Or, how to adjust my perspective from a negative to a more positive spin. It sounds cliché but that really helps.”
His words ring true. I have known him for seventeen years and not only have I had the chance to watch a magnificent creature brave the tides of life, but I have also seen him overcome and jump some mighty high hurdles and he is still standing.
“What’s it like to be a man of color in the working world?”
“I’m not a big talker, to begin with, so it’s not a thing to me. I do my job which I love (graphic designer), then leave. Not saying I’m chummy-chummy with everybody, not hanging out with them on the weekends. But, yeah . . . I’m aware I’m the only black guy in the office side of the building. I’m left alone to do what I need to do which I’m appreciative of.”
Vic, he is an artist, a lyricist, and a strong voice of reason whenever I need it. And, I hear him.
I have written about Levy (The Outstanding) here on Medium twice before. He braves many things in life it seems, effortlessly, but today, I learned how equally hard he has it in the South in “this skin that we’re in.” I begin our conversation yearning to know how it feels being a black man and from there, Levy took me deep into his mind — his heart. He laid it all bare and all I could do was listen.
“What does it feel like to be a black man?”
“To be a black man is to be routinely confronted with society’s preconceived viewpoints of who you are or who you should be. Although these points of view are ultimately beyond our control, black men, even at an early age, are burdened with either defying or reaffirming these stereotypes, as it often determines success or survival. However, what may be seen as a positive quality by one group may be seen negatively by another group. Masculinity in itself, for example, may be seen as an ideal quality by some and as a threat by others.”
When I compare some of his experiences to mine, I can relate, but it gets deeper . . .
“Therefore, when facing the world, black men are often required to raise or lower certain aspects of their personality depending on their immediate situation. This can lead to black men, at least on a subconscious level, conflicting with their own system of beliefs.”
“At the very least, this becomes mentally draining; eventually, though, this can become psychologically damaging.”
Whoever you are, take a moment to sit with those words above, really sit with them. This is not to say that men, in general, do not have struggles, I do not take that lightly at all, they do — this is to express how much harder one struggles as a man of color in and of a system that is designed for —waiting for — them to fail. Next, we tackle the same question, but with a twist . . .
“How is it for you as a black man in your thirties and in the South?”
“As a black man in my thirties growing up in the South, the hardest thing to achieve has been complete peace of mind. Despite what I have achieved and may accomplish in the future, I will always have a deep-seated feeling of not totally fitting in. There will always be a part of me that remembers third grade, when John Rice told me to “move, Blackie” and my teacher heard it but did nothing about it. Always a part of me that will remember, at twenty-seven, being turned away from a nightclub due to the “dress code” although the person in front of me was just as casually-dressed. Always a part of me that will remember just a few weeks ago, when the bartender told me that she didn’t know how to fix the advertised special drink, but prepared the same drink for a white patron less than thirty minutes later.”
“At this point, I’m always aware of and prepared for ridicule or discrimination. I would love to be freed from this constant burden, or at least oblivious to it.”
Imagine yourself living in the year 2019 actually fearful of going into establishments built on serving others and not getting served or served properly. Do you know what it feels like to watch multiple non-black parties come into a restaurant and be seated within two minutes while you wait for more than ten to fifteen minutes when you arrived before them? Or, if you work in a public setting where you deal with people on a daily basis and they are rude to you for no other reason than the color of your skin. Just imagine what that feels like. Could you cope?
He shared his story. He shared his life. He isn’t one to be extremely loud and boisterous. Levy, he made his point and I hear him.
I often think that I know where they’re headed since they have good things going for them now, nothing bad will happen. But, that is a fantasy. Bad things happen to our men of color every second of every day. I pray that they are not pulled into the depths of deception ever again.
Being able to question each of my friends regarding their experiences in life opened up my heart — my ears to them so much more. What they have taught me is to stand tall, even in the face of adversity, even when I feel invisible.They have taught me to roar like a lion, not to be ashamed of admitting that I need help, and to strengthen my core and be prepared to fight as hard as I can to succeed in this world with my mental fortitude still intact. I feel a sense of relief being able to freely converse with each of them and I pray that as the years pile on, we can continue to trade thoughts and confess our fears too. With each of them around, I am guaranteed not to silence myself.
I want to thank each of these men for giving me more to digest as it pertains to life and the ways of this world for a man of color. Andre Murray, Victor Garcia, and Levy McLain — here you will find their voices. Here, you will find their hearts.
Who will you listen to? What do you hear? How will you learn?