Can I cradle you in the nook of my arms? If you were here, would you let me? Hold you I mean? I don’t just want a hug. I want to hold you so we cry together. Kiss the top of your forehead like a mother would. On the shoulder of comfort, let your tears drench my shirt and I will love you like an infant. Can these words hold your head up? I do not want the soft spot of your pain to blemish the fragile newness of the warrior you are becoming. Your critics will look at what you are, but I see what you can become. But you’ve got to let me do my job. Let me hold you. Cradle you in my arms. This is not a blog. Not today. Today this is air. This is breath. This is the permission to breathe. This is words wooing lullabies for the exhausted spirits of the broken.
It took me a long time to realize Rick James Mary Jane song was about weed. For a long time, I thought Mary Jane was an actual woman he was in love with. Every time I heard the song I would smile, my heart melting at the sound of love. Even after watching the movie Friday, where there were obvious clues (such as the song being played as Smokey inhaled three joints at a time that day Craig got high for the first time), I still didn’t get it. After learning what the song was really about, I still liked it but it didn’t have the same happy feeling to it. I didn’t smoke weed so I couldn’t relate. I liked it better when I thought the song was about love.
I miss when we were innocent. Back before we really knew how messed up the world was. Back when the world was ours. Back when my Uncle told me and my siblings we couldn’t watch Bevis and Butthead. Back when the lyrics were still crafty enough to hide the “bad stuff” from the kids. When you didn’t know what the meanings behind the songs were, back when you had to be mature to know what it meant. I miss when we were innocent. Like before you really got to know someone. Back when you were besties just because. Back before we knew each other well enough to be aware of the other’s faults. When you meet someone for the first time there’s an innocence, a respect and a kindness you give because your mother taught you to be kind. As we get to know one another though, it seems like we are no longer as kind, as compassionate, or as merciful.
We take knowledge of the other person‘s mistakes as an invitation to pull back on the amount of love we give. And we do it in the cruelest way. We pull back without communication, without questions, and without checking to see if our assumptions were correct, we just leave. Abandon one another after realizing the other person was human. We didn’t do that kind of stuff as kids. We fought, argued and then invited our friends (the one we just argued with) over for dinner. We didn’t think they were possessed or insane or no longer worthy of our friendship. They disagreed with us but that didn’t mean we were enemies. We knew they were flawed, but that just made us love them better.
As you blog, not everyone will stick around. As people get to know you better, they will soon decide whether you are someone they want to keep up with. And that‘s not a bad thing entirely. People have a right to decide who they want to have around them. That’s life. People come and people go. Blogging is no different. This decision will come, either from you or from them. Somewhere along the lines, you’ll learn you either are or are no longer compatible.
If you‘re new to blogging you better take advantage of it. Those days of people being kind and generous and supportive and of you being loved on won‘t last long. Four and five years into this thing and you will look up to the faces of a completely new group of people, wondering where everyone has gone. This new group will love you now. Appreciate them for it. These are the childlike stages of blogging. The beginning of things, the freshness, the newness. These are the days when we are innocent.
Author: Curtis Bunn
Title: The Old Man in the Club
Publisher: Strebor Books (June 17, 2014)
Curtis Bunn is an essence #1bestselling author and founder of the National Book Club Conference, an organization that hosts an annual literary event for African American readers and authors. This year, the conference was in Atlanta and while I did not get to attend; I did have the chance to visit the InterContinental Hotel where the event was held. I did not get to meet Bunn (who was in the other room hosting Terry McMillan) but I did get to speak to some people there, learn more about the conference and next year‘s festivities, which lead me to Bunn‘s website. A title like “The Old Man in the Club” made me laugh and after reading several pages of the first chapter from Amazon‘s Look Inside feature, I decided this would be my first Curtis Bunn read. I was not disappointed .
I loved the message of this book more than the story although the story is good too. It is easy to judge Elliott but that ties into the author’s message.
Elliott Thomas is a sixty-one-year-old man who hangs out at the club. Not only does he hang out at the club but he flirts with and dates young women. Elliot is also divorced and sees a therapist. He meets Tamara, a twenty-five-year-old and they begin dating. Tamara is also a friend of Elliot‘s twenty-something-year-old children. I like Elliot but I disagree with his lifestyle. Elliot was convicted of something he didn’t do and I felt the reason for that conviction and him dating young women just looks bad. I didn’t think his past justified his desires to pursue younger women by any means. A thirty-five-year-old difference is just too much. I also really dislike the way his children treat him. Elliot’s ex-wife Lucy is also holding onto something. I long suspected what her secret was and I was upset that she would allow Elliot to endure abuse from his children because of something that wasn’t his fault.
But Elliot is not just an old man in the club. The author did well to provide us with multiple layers of his life. He is more complex. He has a past, trauma, and triggers. Elliot was convicted of something he didn’t do and endured other life-changing things in his life.
There’s also a craft chapter at the end of the book where the author explained his inspiration for writing the book and why as well as a list of discussion questions. This was helpful and rather than taking away from the book, I think it was needed and nicely done.
Despite my feelings about the characters actions, they were fully developed and representative of real people. Their decisions did not take away from the book but made it more realistic. Things are not as they appear. The message is: We instantly assess a person‘s values, motives, and character without ever having sat down to get to know them. It makes you think about our perceptions and how we judge others with no knowledge of who they are or where they’ve been. Everyone has a story and well-written as it is, this is Elliot’s.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 4/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Thought Provoking: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5 / 5
I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It’s slow, a little boring and I find the portrayal of submission and authority and the use of scripture to verify abuse offensive, filled with all of the stereotypes and misconceptions the world has taught in regard to a woman and man’s divine role. But, there is one perfect example in the series that illustrates why self-love is so important.
The TV show is based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood and is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, June (Offred), is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.
Self-love is important because you can only love others to the extent that you already love yourself.
When the wives of the wealthy men abuse their Handmaid’s, it’s because they hate themselves. They hate themselves for not being able to bear children. They only show love (if we can call it that) to the Handmaid’s when they love themselves and they only love themselves when they have conceived (through the handmaids) children.
Love Yourself. Know Yourself. Be Yourself.
Self-love is not being arrogant and prideful, it is not about the clothing you wear, not about how many likes and comments you get on a post, not about the amount of money you make or what you do for a living. Rather, self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself that grows from actions that support your physical, mental, professional, and spiritual growth. When Self-love is present, we begin to accept better our weaknesses as well as our strengths without thinking badly about ourselves. We are not easily provoked, popping off and cursing people out every time they say something bad about us. We have less of a need to explain our actions and decisions when we know who we are and what our intentions are. We are not quick to over-intellectualize our shortcomings in an effort to get people to understand us. We have more compassion for ourselves instead of beating ourselves down when we do something wrong and we are more centered in our life purpose and values.
Self-love also gives us the discipline to deny what we want for what we need. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
When we love ourselves, we expect more of ourselves and of the people around us. No longer does it become acceptable to treat us any differently than we would treat ourselves. When we love ourselves, we demand more and we give more. When we love ourselves, we become more productive professionally, spiritually, and physically. Our cup runs over and we are able to give more to others.
Self-love is important because you will otherwise hate others in the same way that you hate yourself…
…which leads to abuse. Abuse of your friendships, abuse of your relationships, abuse of your career, abuse of your children, abuse of your family. People who hate themselves destroy everyone and everything around them. In turn, they cope by deceiving themselves into thinking it is someone else fault. The truth is that relationships are two-sided. It is never 100% the other persons’ fault but each person has come with their own set of issues. But if you don’t love yourself, you’ll lack accountability for your actions. You’ll tend to always make other people the villain and you, always, the victim.
Remember, without love, knowledge is nothing. Without love, prophecy is nothing. Without love, the truth is nothing.
Now, Enter the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest before July 31st!
Win money. Win books. Get published. Get noticed.
The theme for this year is: Self-Love, Self-Care. Write a poem that talks about self-love or self-care in some way and email it to yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot) com
Don’t forget to read the full rules and guidelines HERE to learn more about this year’s prizes and how to enter.
That’s it! 3poem max per poet. Enter BEFORE 12:00pm EST on July 31, 2018. Winners announced on August 22, 2018.
dip me in chocolate-covered rhyme
like the color of my skin
a young woman once drowning now lives on the shores of truth
sweating similes from her pores
a fresh coat of passion that shines something like melanin
can I scorch you with radiance?
breathing inspiration like oxygen
singing compassion, smoking lyric
and sipping on rhythm slow like the stride of a black man
the crackling compasses beneath his footsteps
clutching couplets like purses confused
by the uncertainty of his smile
the sugarcoated twinkle in their eyes
or the question mark in her walk
her hips sway
like six children, no man, and give up
but I got this mouth full of simile
this fist full of irony
this metaphor-shaped voice in my throat
a delicate coating of poetry to wash away the broken
so let me cocoa butter your heart into the palms of my hands
be Vaseline to your ashy and together
we’ll bind the broken wings of peanut butter,
and milky way,
and dark-covered freedoms
like the colors of poetry
on my skin.
I vomit kindness from my gut
And I am overflowing
in compassion for people
who have none
I let them swim here
Today’s episode is about being patient and gentle with yourself. We already spoke about responsibility and discipline. If you set a goal and you didn’t meet that goal, don’t beat yourself over the head. We need time to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally in whatever we are doing. This is a process. It even takes time to heal. Give yourself that time. Don’t verbally abuse yourself and talk down to yourself. There are plenty of people in the world who will do that for you. Spare yourself the added abuse by being gentle with yourself.