Hey y'all! I've been sick. I mean coughing, sneezing, head aching, nose running, fever and body ache sick. It's been a little over a week and while I'm back to sending emails and sitting at a desk again, I've still got some healing to do. Regardless, I wanted to share two stories with you. The first one is pretty inspiring. (Spoiler: I discovered something awesome about the power of meditation.) The second one... not so inspiring, but maybe someone needs to hear it so I'll tell it anyway.
Here's story #1
I felt at my sickest while at the airport. And as horrible as that sounds, it was worst. Fever chills were rendering me queasy and weak. My brain felt as if it would explode with every swallow and every heartbeat. And I could barely stand to drag my corpse across the airport much less my heavy bags. Even worst, I'd had a layover and gotten to the airport five hours before my first flight took off due to some irritating business with early check out times and what have you. Under normal circumstances, it was a shitty airport experience but being sick just made it unbearable. So I picked up my cell phone and pulled up a meditation app (Calm) that I'd recently paid for a year's subscription for. Mind you, I'd only meant to use the weeklong trial period and unintentionally overstayed my welcome... but boy am I happy I did. After settling on a particular topic - which I'm sorry to say I'm forgetting what meditation topic I chose - I closed my eyes and drifted off into oblivion. When I woke up, my headache and chills were gone. I blinked a few times and smiled, wondering why on earth I didn't decide to meditate earlier. Now I'm not going to say that the rest of my trip was a breeze but it certainly went much better (and surprisingly quicker) than it would have had I NOT meditated. With the added motivation of a clearer brain (and nostrils), I did a few meditations while on the airplane and it instantly sped up the rest of my trip. Before I knew it, I was home and in bed. To say that meditation will now be my secret weapon when I'm sick is an understatement. I suggest that when you're feeling your worst, you tap into this super power.
Now comes story #2
A couple days ago, I was down in the dumps. I really couldn't tell you why. It could've been residual sickness wearing off. I'd also just gotten back from a trip and while it went great, it took a huge toll on me mentally, emotionally and physically. Anyway, I'd tried to jump back into the swing of things but couldn't seem to get it together. The funk had taken over my life. And so I went to my 'go-to' (meditation, of course) but I still ended up feeling empty. So I did the only thing I could think of. I let the depressed feelings wash over me. I paid attention to my body. Ate when I was hungry. Rested, when I felt tired (which was all day). I watched my favorite TV shows. Didn't force myself to do anything I didn't want to do. Allowed myself to express my emotions in as healthy a way as possible (making sure to tell me husband that he was NOT the object of my glumness.) I mainly just allowed the mood to do what it needed to do so that I could fully process it out of my system. Right now I can't say that I'm at one hundred percent, but I CAN say that I feel much better.
I say all of this to say that meditation is a great way to help us to get through tough times, but it is not some magical cure-all drug that stops us from feeling feelings. The best way to cope with life's ups and downs is always by processing our emotions - even the unpleasant ones - and allowing them to run their course. Sometimes it sucks, but it's part of the completely balanced breakfast experience called life. (The breakfast part was a joke.)
That said, I look forward to facing my emotions head on and I hope you will too.
Checking twitter recently, I saw a status from @BlackWomensBlueprint that said:
"Do not let this recent focus on Black women and girls be just a 'moment' in culture. Do not let it fade from your hearts and minds. Protect Black girls in your homes and communities - long after R. Kelly is behind bars."
This status is in reference to "Surviving R. Kelly" the documentary that recently aired on Lifetime that set twitter and America ablaze with its detailed accounts of serial rapist and R&B music artist R. Kelly and his brainwashing and manipulation of Black women and girls. This documentary was important for so many reasons and in so many ways because it shed light on how much society doesn't recognize the humanity of Black girls. Additionally, the entertainment industry and fans were put on alert as to how much power they give abusers by supporting their art.
After watching the series, I found the need to do a lot of self care. I took a long, quiet bath and sat in silence. I talked with my mother and sisters. I took a walk through the park. These were things that I needed to do because, to be quite honest, just watching that documentary was exhausting. By watching these women relive their trauma, I was reliving it WITH them. When the documentary referenced a fourteen year old girl who'd been abused, I remembered myself at fourteen. I thought of my fourteen year old niece. I thought of young girls in my neighborhood. And it was devastating.
For this reason, I implore those of you who have watched the documentary who have been through sexual abuse trauma and really, any kind of abuse... please take the time to nurture yourself. Growing up doesn't mean that all of our childhood fears, experiences and let downs are behind us. In fact, growing up means having the tools to now take care of your inner child, assuring her that you are in total control and she doesn't have to worry about being let down again.
Additionally, we must protect our girls. One of the recurring themes throughout the docuseries was the number of witnesses to the abuse that these girls faced who said nothing. I noticed that many of these people were the men that R. Kelly kept around him - as many of the women had already been psychologically abused and brainwashed. The men expressed their sadness (and sometimes, surprise *eyeroll*) at what they saw R. Kelly do but did nothing more. This is a problem.
R. Kelly was enabled by a fraternity of men who felt it more important to keep a code of silence, than to help young women. After the series was over, I felt the need to talk to my husband - a black man - about how important it is for men to be symbols of safety and strength in our community as opposed to bodyguards for evil. As women, we must hold our sons, brothers, husbands and fathers accountable. Empower them. Remind them that it is their duty to us to stand up to their male friends and protect the more vulnerable in our society. There should be no code of silence amongst men when it comes to hurting young girls. There should be no pride in cozying up to abusers while victims are left to fend for themselves.
As women, we must encourage young girls, NOT shame them. We all know what it feels like to be young and naive. After seeing the documentary, I didn't think ANY of those girls and women deserved what they experienced at R. Kelly's hands. However, I saw endless posts on social media from women who (likely coping with their own internalized trauma) blamed them for "putting themselves in bad situations" or "being fast." The sooner that those of us (who know better) can correct those with that mindset, the sooner we can get to the real root of the problem... shutting down predators that take advantage of young women.
So with all of this, I say that a lot of work must be done when it comes to healing the Black community. But this docuseries was an excellent first step.
Well, everybody. It's happened. The earth took another trip around the sun and we've officially arrived at two thousand and nineteen, in the year of our lord. I'm happy to say that I don't have a lot of regrets from 2018. In fact, it was arguably one of the best years of my life.
On a personal note, I unlocked some gifts (through meditation) and have been using these gifts to help other people and to further my career. It's been an awesome journey and I'm so proud to have been brave enough to step into my power. I hope that the year has been on a similarly good note for all of you.
If not, it's great to think of today as the day that you can turn things around. In fact, think of this month as the month that you can turn things around. And if I'm being honest, I want you to keep this very same energy, the energy of new year, new me... Every. Single. Day. Why? Because why not? Every day is a day that we are given a chance to start over. There's nothing wrong with making new year's resolutions but don't kick yourself if you fall off the wagon. Just wake up and say "It's a new day and I'm going to try again."
You got this! And being that you've already started putting meditation into your daily or weekly practice, it's going to be a breeze manifesting what you want in 2019. Let's go!!!
At its core Black Women's Day of Meditation is about encouraging all of you to make meditation a part of your every day life in order to promote good mental and physical health. I've listed all of the benefits of meditation but one thing I didn't mention is that many of you may already be doing it. That's right! Even if you don't know it, you might already be a meditation guru.
Have you ever taken a quick nap? You know the kind where you can wake up out of it at any moment. This kind of light sleep is a form of meditation. It's rejuvenating, super healthy and allows us to tap into our subconscious mind. That's why for many of us, when we're in this state we feel semi-awake. Taking these kinds of naps allows the brain to rest and therefore you can be sharper and clearer afterward. Additionally, you can set intentions, ask questions or think about a problem before going into this meditation and, in many cases, you just may wake up with the answer.
I encourage those of you who don't feel like you're cut out for that meditation life to try taking a quick meditation-nap.
You won't regret it!
Black Women's Day of Meditation is a relatively new group that boasts only 82 followers on Instagram and 14 followers on Twitter. A few of you have checked out our website and for that we are thankful. However, it's easy to become discouraged at times when we think about the magnitude of what it is that we will accomplish in a few months.
We are summoning the largest group of Black women to meditate on the same day, focusing on healing and peace for ourselves and the world. While it's not necessary for us to physically be together at the same place at the same time in order to fulfill this mission, it still requires massive coordination and outreach.
Thinking about this today has been a bit overwhelming but then I remembered that small beginnings are the best kind. Why? Because they are allowed to grow in uninterrupted peace. We're moving along steadily, making mistakes, sharing our successes, building our foundation and taking all of the time we need in order to do so. Eventually, we will come out into the light - bright, bold, beautiful and bigger than anyone could have ever imagined.
But until then... we are a small beginning. And for that, we are grateful.
These past few months have been interesting to say the least. I’ve learned about the power of energy and how my thoughts can shift nearly any situation from bad to good. Armed with this superpower, I've approached life with as much optimism and gusto as I could muster and watched in amazement as the universe has - again and again - worked in my favor.
It's been fun but I'm not going to say it's been easy. One of the first things I needed to learn (and continue to learn) is that before I can flex my "manifestation muscles" I have to be clear in my intentions. Why? Because the universe won't know what to deliver to me if I'm not clear on what I want.
I'm sure most of you think that identifying your intentions should be the easiest part of manifesting your reality, but if that was the case, we would all be happily swimming in whatever it is that we believe we truly want. Living in a place that is known as the mecca of dream-seekers and goal oriented people - Los Angeles - I've seen a lot of dreams fall by the wayside. Not because people haven't worked hard enough or because the opportunities weren't available to them but because they're not clear on their intentions. For example, if a person's biggest dream is to be an actress, we might assume that their main intention is to explore different personalities by embodying them. Perhaps they like being in front of crowds. Maybe they want to make lots of money. All three of those reasonings are three totally different intentions. You can be in front of a crowd as a standup comedian or an athlete. You might make lots of money by being a lawyer or a doctor. Exploring different personalities can be achieved through entering the field of psychology. This is not to say that these intentions aren't valid reasons to become an actress, but rather that if acting doesn't fulfill these core desires, there's a huge possibility that you may not be manifesting it for a reason.
So with meditation I've been practicing making sure that my intentions are clear, so that I can be sure that I'm manifesting exactly what I want and also in order to take the quickest route to my dream. For example, if my ultimate goal/intention is to have a career in entertainment, there's no point in me applying to jobs at a local news station (which is something that I actually did and couldn't figure out why it didn't work).
With that said, go out and get what you want. And if you're wondering what's the delay, take inventory of your intentions. Perhaps that might be the key.
I’m sure the title sounds dramatic, but I’m trying to get your attention here.
Black women all over the world are some of the most stressed out people on the planet. We work hard and raise our families in conditions that are wayyyyyyy less than ideal in a world that mostly caters to men and white people. In other words, we have the short end of the stick no matter how you cut it. Outside of mother earth herself, it’s hard to find a group that’s been marginalized and exploited worse.
And so after reading yet another article about how black women are affected at a disproportionate rate by some horrible ailment (this time maternal death in child birth) I had to ask*…
WHY CAN’T BLACK WOMEN SEEM TO CATCH A FRICKING BREAK?!?!
This question plagued me day after day. It plagued me while doing yoga at the gym. It plagued me during my evening meditation. It plagued me while cooking dinner with my husband. It plagued me at my Black women’s writing group. It plagued me while I did all of these wonderful self-care things that always managed to lift my spirits, relieve my stress, keep me healthy and help me to connect with the world around me. And then it hit me… most of us aren’t doing these things. A phone call with my sister proved my point. In between her yelling at her rambunctious children (she has 5 total and a father in-law and a husband who live with her… so I guess you can say she’s taking care of 7 people in all) I could barely get a word in.
“Caressa, are you meditating?” I asked her.
“Am I what? Hold on… DON’T SHUT THE DOOR CAYLEE! (pause) WELL, LET YOUR SISTER IN AND THEN SHUT THE DOOR! Uh, yeah… meditating. No. (laughs) What’s that?"
My family has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and breast cancer. We also have a history of being caretakers for everyone on God’s green earth except ourselves. With all of the benefits of meditation, we should be at the top of the list of people who practice this form of self-care but guess what? We’re not. And my family is far from special. I can count on one hand how many Black women that I know personally who meditate. And I know way too many hard-working, selfless Black women for this to be something that I can say with confidence.
Could you imagine what kind of world we would live in if we started to heal the group that is most at risk for stress related illnesses? I can. It would be a wonderful place.
And so my venture has begun. I’m asking as many people to join this cause as possible. It’s small right now but I’m patient. Yes, I’m targeting this movement toward Black women but I invite all women and men to join us. We are changing the world starting with the group that gets overlooked and overworked the most and working our way out from there.
So I will end by saying this… Black women, I see you. I see the work you put in for your families. The work you put in at your jobs. The stress. The trauma. The feeling of being ignored. Wondering when you can catch a break. The treatment that you get from others. I see you and I will continue to fight for you. We’re all in this together. Let’s save ourselves. Only then can we start to see real change in this world.
*Sex and the City reference :)