A Story that Needs Telling

I don’t want to do anything in desperation. I had done too many things out of desperation. For every single one of those hastily made decision, I had lived to regret them so deeply.

“Why yuh a sidung by yuself like poor ting?”

I didn’t want to answer. This would mean I am alive. Who wants to live when death is surely better? Or is it? I try to catch a little breeze. Prayed for the gentle tickles, for the mischievous ripples that would play along my bare skin. But there was only the comfort of heat, making me sticky and itchy all over. Not a single spot was overlooked. There was only the rapid tattoo of my heart and the shallow rush, in and out of each breath I took. A painful reminder that I have to get up, in spite of it all, and go on with this business of living. Yes I had to get up, even if I had to go back a bit to do so.

“Bwoy, you never learn, going ina circle always end up a di same place.”

Was that me or one of my granny’s endless lectures making an unwelcome appearance. I decided to lie back and follow that voice, wherever it led.

“Pickney, stop go ’round mi skirt, stay still!”

My world was not right. Something was wrong with this memory. I was seeing everything through lenses, topsy turvy. Obviously the cameraman was a novice.

“eediot, caah even focus on the scene.”

In a moment it shifted. There she is running in her nighty.

“Lawd have mercy pickney, go home!”

It Will Be Okay.

Imagine if you lost everything you thought you could never live without.

That is a terrifying thought for many of us, but what if we did? What would we do?

It’s easy to look at someone who is not okay and give them advice on what they need to do. Then we think or talk out of their hearing: “man that is rough, but, thank God it’s not me!”

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Now, my issue with such a sentiment is this, does God allow good things happen to some and bad things to others? Sometimes when we say the above, it seems as if we are somehow exempt from going through certain trials, but we are not.

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I spoke recently to a colleague and former teacher, who is undergoing cancer treatment. I had not seen her at work for some time and then I saw her back out at work and though she had lost some weight, she seemed so calm and was laughing and smiling and it made me pause and think about how I overreact to some simple things at time. After all she has been through lately where did she find the courage to get up and live each day as it comes?

As she pointed out to me, it is not easy but, she does it because the alternative is death.

I am realizing that the problems I see as insurmountable or really not impossible to overcome. I am in the process of reconstructing my mindset about the outlook I have concerning every situation I am faced with. If I can be devastated at the thought of someone else’s diagnosis and surprised by her ability to get up every day and smile and be pleasant then maybe I need to change how I view my own problems. Are they really that serious or require the reaction I sometimes have?

Would I be okay if I lost all the things I fear losing, that have nothing to do with the life I have been given by God.

I remember a point, as I got older, that I feared losing my grandmother, and so I use to pray every year that she would life one more year and that God would make it ten or twenty years – or forever if he could. It has been 15 years since my grandmother died and I still have not forgotten how important she was in my life. Since then, I have made some terrible decisions and some good one, but the most important thing is that I have been able to continue to live.

An article I recently read entitled, In Haiti, the Art of Resilience, comes to mind. The article was written in 2010 by Bill Brubaker, after the earthquake which devastated the country and killed 230,000 and displaced approximately 1.5 million others. The writer highlighted a series of stories concerning the impact of the earthquake on the Art community. One that stood out to me was about 87-year-old Haitian artist, Préfète Duffaut who lost family members, friends, his home, and most of his art work. What was so inspiring about his interview was the hope that Brubaker noted was, “shining from his eyes”. The hope to build from the rubble something new and vital. There were other stories of gallery owners – whose galleries had not escaped the devastation – who provided money and art supplies to artists who had lost everything. Duffaut at 87, having experienced crisis after crisis in Haiti, along with his country men and women, was able to affirm of this particular event: “my future paintings will be inspired by this tragedy”. How many of us would be able to create something meaningful and inspiring from the rubble of our own tragedies?

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We all have the potential to take ourselves out of the dark abyss that life places us in. All we need is to cultivate is a vision of possibilities in the face of adversities.

Though it may be hard for us to keep the faith when things go south, real quick; it will be okay. Just keep telling yourself this, until you believe it.

Like many Haitians, let us adopt their attitude when faced with difficulties:  ‘Let’s get on with it! Tomorrow is another day.’

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About Labels…

Be a person and not an adjective!

Me

labels can be damaging; so can we get rid of them?

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People will label you no matter what you do. I remember many times when I was younger when I was the head “cook and bottle washer”, in giving unflattering names to my numerous victims and afterward go about my business content with my lot in life. Today, I realize that I hate labels. I dislike intensely when persons view me in a particular way and expect me to be that way for the rest of my life – this from a girl who is indecisive about what I want to eat, wear, be and the list is endless. The irony is, I accept their typecasting because unlike when I was younger, what people thinks matter to me. So, we assume the labels given to us because we suddenly realize that people don’t want you to be yourself, they want you to be what they want you to be, no matter if you like it, yes or no.

So what can we do?

I really don’t have THE ANSWER.

All I have is the belief that we need to unlearn some of the most damaging things we have learned and practice as we get older since; one those things is our acceptance of being labelled.

I realized today that I was thinking one week behind the actual date!

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I had always told myself that I can’t concentrate and really cannot focus on anything for long and I believe that this is catching up with me. So when the end of December came I did not register that it was not the last week of November even though I had seen the calendar; my mind did not catch up to the fact. I have also said for many years, that I have a problem remembering names, and guess what this has gotten worse over the years! Another case involves my hearing. Since high school I have been telling all who would listen that I have a hearing problem and you guessed it, it has gotten worse!

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The labels that others give us can be damaging – even those that seem good too – but that is not makes them stick. When we belief we are those labels then they become true. So do I have a hearing problem? No but my ears have gotten lazy – I guess it was tired of me always putting it down. Do I lack the ability to focus? No, but I have taught myself to be that way.

I heard and then read a story of a trans man, Lee Harris, who wanted to reverse the procedure, after being on an 11 years journey to becoming what he thought he wanted to be. The story appeared on the Metro website in 2018 and again on the BBC website, in November 2019. The point is that Lee/Debbie saw a new identity,a new label, as a savior from years of trauma as a result of being sexually abused as a child. However, gender reassignment did not provide the new lease on life sought. Instead it resulted years later in a desperate cry for help to change back into what he was trying to run from; the true self.

For us labels can seem good. they may elevate us in the eyes of others and we may have a sense of belonging; but, if we decide to change in anyway, those same labels may imprison us and create more problems than we can deal with.

It’s easy to assume labels: we fail at doing one thing out of everything we did right and suddenly we are failures, or incompetent or stupid and it becomes impossible. We need to learn not to be a part of the hype in order not to be destroyed by it.

If you don’t want to be stuck, limited or misrepresented forget about the label and show up as yourself. All of you. Be a person and not an adjective!

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And Then… December!

Today is the first day of the last year! And I know many of us are looking forward to this end. It’s time to get ready to end the year with a bang – and it takes all 31 days people.

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For many 2019 has been good and bad in many many ways. There are some who will say that in all honesty, it has been a difficult year in many ways. I’m not saying that it was all bad, but, when you put it all together it has been a year filled with many challenges.

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So we – maybe out of desperate optimism – believe that because it is nearing the end of the year, come 2020 all our struggles will disappear, like magic. We believe that awesome things MUST replace all the difficulties that we have experienced. Well I bet you felt that way at the end of 2018.

2019 is gonna be the best year ever! Until it wasn’t.

Sorry I hate to break this to you – well not really – live doesn’t work like that. Things don’t change because it’s a new day, month or year. The baggage that we carried throughout the year, can still weigh us down next year.

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If we want to get rid of some of the things that we know we don’t need to carry, we should do exactly that; get rid of it. While you get distracted by the revelry, and good cheer of the season remember to keep in mind the need to start working on improving things in 2020 – if you have not done so yet. While it is the beginning of the end for 2019, make sure you’re getting ready to face 2020.

And finally, remember that advent begins today and ends on Christmas Eve; use these four weeks to focus on what will help keep you grounded in the coming year: faithfulness(peace), hope, joy and love!

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Storytelling

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and to instill moral values.

definitions.net

The least we can do is to try to understand the story of another and if you can’t understand do not deny it.

Unknown

We hear and tell stories everyday. No matter where we are, but at least once per day, we recount some incident we experienced to someone. Sometimes theses stories end up being fantastic tales, because something wildly unexpected and exciting happens. Whether it is an accident, a disagreement that got out of control, a funny incident or not so funny one, but something dramatic that can make your day a memorable one.

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Then we may find ourselves in a situation where we have to use an experience from out past or from someone else’s past, to make a point and perhaps inspire someone. We gladly share, because our intent is that these stories will change lives. And sometimes, in the act of sharing our stories or someone else’s, we are reminded of what we are capable of. So, our stories not only inspire others but we are also inspired by it. Stories matter and the telling of them matters greatly.

Then, there are stories that we dare not tell, no matter the audience. These are stories that will be misunderstood and rejected by listeners. These are stories that may not be fit for public scrutiny -depending again on who is listening. It may be because of where we come from, how they are told and who is doing the telling. When your story challenges the status quo, then it becomes harder for it to be heard and you feel as if your story does not matter. But somewhere out there is someone who needs your story, so they too can have the courage to tell their own.

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When you tell your story, those who hear become witnesses to that story. Stories are not limited to renown writers; millions of potential stories are crafted everyday by people living their unique situation and are waiting simply for the instrument through which they will be given life, to enter the lives of people who need them and who they need, to keep alive a part of you after you are no longer hear to do the telling. These stories live and never die, when those bearing witness, listen without judgement, without adhering to previously held prejudices and who in the process, restore dignity where lost and the power to simple be what it is and not what others would want it to be. Every story does not have to be our individual or collective realities but every story needs to be told.

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