Friday, August 17, 2018

The Queen of Soul Lives On

Yesterday, we lost one of the greatest voices to ever sing. Aretha Franklin could not only sing across all genres, she could also play the piano, and most of all she was a soul speaker, one who was there in your darkest hour and your highest triumph. And I must admit, I feel as my childhood continues to slip away into the death that awaits all of us. But, this is not a sad tribute, this is a celebration because one of daughter's favorite singers is the Queen herself, which means she lives on.

Some of the first songs, I started humming in my grandmother's house was Chain of Fools, Respect and Precious Lord/Old Landmark from the live recording at her father's church in the heart of Detroit. Whenever I had my heart broken or my spirit crushed, I would turn to her records to soothe me back to my joy. Her voice rocked me to power and she would return the swagger to my step. She wore whatever she wanted and when she dropped that fur coat at the White House concert honoring Carole King, it is because she always had negative fucks to give. And Amen to all of that!

She was the light to all the invisible Black girls everywhere. She gave us power and relevance. She also inspired an entire generation and style of music, once she switched to Atlantic Records (because Columbia had no idea what to do with all of that). And then her voice became the life blood of soul music. Its steady heartbeat. And no matter if she originated the song or it was a cover, it always became an ORIGINAL once her voice stamped it. Not many singers can say the same thing.

I will always love you Aretha. My heart is truly sad, but I am grateful that I got to see you live and that my Maya loves your music just as much as I do.  And I will play all of your music so that your spirit can continue to uplift mine. God has welcomed a true angel and I know that the choir is now elevated with a new soloist.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vulnerability looks like

This week has a brought a new lesson in dating and being present with who you are. I am comprised of a lifetime of lessons, yet I am open to the new ones that have not even hearkened my path. Many of us that are single attempt to protect are vulnerabilities and weaknesses from the outside world. That may work for a moment, but if you are truly interested in dating and turning me into we, then you must open your heart and mind.

Now no one is saying that you can't have fun and that every person you sit down with is the one. But, I am saying that you must embrace the messiness that makes you, you. You must love the good and bad. And you must be okay with rejection and disappointment. Or else, you will climb back into that shell and be content.

We are constantly works in progress but every now and then I decide to throw myself back into the fray of mingling and dating and I am amazed and sometimes dismayed at the outcome of my experiences. But, they are mine to love and hate and forgive. Because at the end of it all I'm human first, woman next, parent, actress, writer, teacher, and everything else in between. I have a heart, spirit and soul.

And no matter the risk, I bounce back a bit quicker each time. And I find joy in the small moments. I find laughter and intimacy in the light and the dark. And most of all I display my vulnerable and find  beauty instead of shame. In other words I choose to live a lot more each day I am blessed to be on this earthly plane.

And to that, I will always say yes because I'm not promised tomorrow nor am I promised a happily ever after. But, I am promised lessons, joy, and laughter. And that is enough...for today...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dating and Relationships in 2015

Dating takes a great deal of effort especially if you are completely allergic to being in public places to mingle with others. After work, family commitments, and life, many want to simply curl up at home with a nice movie or a book, and definitely a home cooked meal. Nothing in that scenario includes scheduling a date, flirting, or even smiling at a random stranger. For singles, a balance needs to be struck between life, responsibilities, and fun. And each of us must find our own source of fun. But before we venture into the world of dating and relationships we must check our own baggage in 2014. We must rediscover what makes us happy and move into 2015 with joy. Or else the past will always be a near distant future.

If you are an introvert or a newly minted one since going out may no longer be enjoyable, than you may be open to being set up by friends or reconnecting with someone from the past. Although, at times you are reminded why a certain person was in your rear view in the first place. Either way, take the time that you are single to work towards new goals that will bring you closer to emotional, financial. and spiritual nirvana. And be cautious of becoming a serial dater, it is never a bad idea to take some time between relationships. Reconnect with friends from your inner and outer circle and rebuild bonds. Make time for casual meals, movies, plays, museums, and walks in the park. The crisp winter air is a wonderful environment for small talk or silence. It is a great way to do some solo or group meditation. It is also a great practice to combine mental and physical well-being.

Remember dating and relationships are not just limited to intimacy and sex. It also includes rebuilding relationships with family and friends. Because no matter who you meet for your personal happily ever after, you will always need your friends to lean on. And those relationships must be nourished as much as possible.

Each life travels its own path. At times paths cross and mingle and even move apart. But our sights should be set on the journey and not simply the destination. Because who knows where you will end up if your heart and mind stay open.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Finding your way back to you

There are relationships that will leave you completely broken. You know the ones where you gave your heart and soul or the promises that you heard were not quite kept in earnest. The ones where you either fell out of love with each other or you were left carrying your heart. After a major break up, divorce, or separation, you have to eventually find your way back to you.

At first you feel devastated. You want to cry, yell, scream, kick things and snot cry again. You feel as if you are a complete failure and there is guilt because it simply did not work when you literally gave it your all. You are tempted to be strong and not grieve. Wrong!!! Each time you cry and scream, you are one step closer to finding yourself again. You may not want to love every again. But tears do not make you weak and always being strong is completely overrated!

But the first task at hand is finding enough love for you again. You can only find this through forgiveness. You must get rid of the guilt. It is okay to be single and it is okay to return back to your original goals and dreams. When you are in this situation, you are usually rebuilding your spirit, soul, energy, and sanity all at the same time. Because when you look around you can see the pieces of you, broken like a smashed mirror. And there will be days that it feels as if you will never find the glue to pull yourself back together again.

I am here to tell you that it is possible. You will slowly get back to who you are. You will even discover a new you in the broken pieces. And then you will walk to a new path forged out of the pain and newness of self-discovery.

So if this is you, scream and cry and kick until the snot simply won't stop. Love yourself each and every day. Love your brokenness and your wholeness. Love all of your decisions including the ones that led you to this place of hurt. Love your friends and find love in the simple things. Love the air that you breathe and the warm water that flows over you during each shower or bath. And soon you will begin to find passion and joy once again. And your heart and soul will heal.

And that is how you will find your way back to you.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Finding yourself first

Each time that I see couples that have been together for longer than 15 years and are still smiling and able to express intimacy and kindness, I am always curious about the natural ebb and flow that effortlessly exudes from their spirit. The first thing that I notice is their individuality that usually includes having a shared interests or shared respect for what the other brings to the table. And when I ask them what their secret is, the answers are always simple and the same no matter the gender or race.

Communication, unwavering support, not seeking perfection, and the willingness to change. And most importantly, each of them stress how important it is to know yourself first. Let me repeat that again because I have discovered that this is an Achilles heel for many us. The ability to look closely in the mirror at our reflection and understand each of our strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. It is the ability as I have been told by these successful couplings the ability to say "I love you" to the reflection before you embark on a love affair with another.

Not seeking perfection is another. Many of us during our 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s seek perfection in a partner. At times we expect that their perfection will somehow mask and uplift our own imperfection and that is simply not realistic. Now I am not saying anyone should be interested in a project but one should seek an equal partner to grow with.

Unwavering support must exist. There is nothing worst than a partner who ridicules or attempts to stop your dreams and aspirations. A happy partner is always one who not only loves self but loves what they have chosen to do. And the freedom of spirit to know that if you change your mind you will not be left alone or made to feel as if it is a terrible idea. We expect our friends to support us and we should not expect anything less from our mate.

Communication is something that always get better with age, understanding, and insight. It is connected to understanding one's self and all of the baggage that each of us have collected over the years. Relationships and the idea of one should not be taken lightly. If second thoughts or something triggers a negative response then it should be examined before making a serious commitment. If communication is hurtful, damaging, or simply nonexistent it is a signal to move on to unless both parties are willing to work towards improvement with honest admissions.

Lastly, if a hurdle or obstacle is not handled well as an individual, it will be no different when they are shared with another. And that brings me to one's willingness to change. Yes, change. Change is never comfortable and I will not write some sappy line about changing for those you love and care about. What I will say is that change is inevitable if one is growing and maturing into a better understanding. In fact change is connected to emotional maturity and understanding. Each couple can honestly say that they are different from when they met 20 years ago. And they are able to stay together because of something bigger than vows, children, and obligation. Now the magic is very individual but I have found that all of these ingredients can be found in the yummy cake batter that makes relationships stick.

So make sure you find yourself first and love yourself and then watch the magic unfold for you too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We must value "me" before becoming "we"

There have been many new marriages and relationships sparking and developing around me. In the joy and excitement of newness, there is also concern for what the future holds. Many couples that have been together for 10 or more years will advise you that taking it day by day is the best way. Some will advise you to plan for the future as you are taking it day by day. And even more will insist that you do all the above and make sure that you are taking care of "me" as you continue to work towards being a better "we".

This last advice works for new and old couples, but it is vital for those of us that are single because without a happy "me" there can be no healthy "we". Relationships take work, but as you are embarking on them your personal stuff has the tendency to surface. The stuff that make us who we are. The stuff that has been protecting us from harm for many years. That stuff that we have learned to live with.  The stuff that at times blocks our blessings because it is besieged with fear and anger. Books will advise you to check it at the door and walk towards relationship bliss. The problem is some of that stuff feels very good and like a warm blanket on a cold day, we do not want to part with it.

So what does "me" do?

"Me" looks at the stuff and when I interact with someone I care about and some of the stuff makes me anxious, I forgive my stuff and "me" and start creating new stuff that works with "we".

This means that we are human. This means I love "me" enough to not be afraid of what I see when I am "we". This means that I can also understand my partner's stuff and not take it personally. It means I can at times begin to drop my stuff gradually until new and better stuff wraps around me so that "me" can become a healthier and happier "we".

Do no be afraid of commitment, relationships, and marriage. You will always have stuff. Just know that as you grow in trust, love, understanding , and courage, your stuff will begin to evolve and change too. But, on the other hand, if your stuff is telling you to run for the hills please listen. This advice is not an invitation to invite crazy into your life. Stuff can protect you from crazy but it can also make you run right for it if your are not careful.

At the end of the day, you will eventually find a "we" where your stuff can evolve in peace. And where "me" and "we" can co-exist with out insanity.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Loving Me First

I have been pondering a new revelation. I am no good to those I love and care about when I stop loving me first. It seems so selfish to love yourself before anyone else, but it is necessary. I find that my temper is short, my willingness to meet up is low, and my patience is nonexistent. I have spent half a lifetime worrying and being there for others. It is now time to take my own advice and be there for me. I will make be a much better mommy, friend, daughter, cousin, niece, and partner.

This is not a mini vacation from life. This will become my new life's mantra. Remembering what it feels like to feel love all over is my new quest. I want to be okay if I don't pick up the phone or respond to a thousand emails. It is okay to say no. That will be a challenge, but I am up for it. Saying no leaves more space for me to say yes to Tamara. Yes, Tamara you can sleep in. Yes, Tamara you do not have to run all over the city for everyone else. Yes, Tamara you can read a ton of books and not answer the phone for 24 hours. And yes, if you are loved by those who always say they do, they will understand those gentle no's mean them no harm or less love.

This is my decade to embrace a new philosophy. One, I am always sharing with my quirky and enlightening FB posts. This time I am taking my own advice and making sure that I love me first. I am like an ocean, I have boundless emotions and dreams. Many of them have begun to manifest and many more are taking shape. All will be in vain if my love tank is empty and filled with bitterness. So I am preparing myself by filling up on love, hope, joy, and peace. This can only be accomplished in the silence of solitude and meditation. I am ready to embrace and love me so that I can in turn love others more and enjoy the bounty of my new season.