The Stories Your Heart Isn’t Ready to Tell

September 21, 2016

the-stories-your-heart-isnt-ready-to-tell

Quit looking for excuses. Stop looking for an out, a reason to cancel, a watered down way of telling him that you don’t usually make it this far with anyone and you’re starting to get nervous. See, you are a master at building up walls and ducking behind bricks. But, not tonight. Tonight is not about building one more wall nor ducking behind one more brick. Tonight is not about throwing banter across your Twitter timeline during the latest episode of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood. You can catch the show on demand; if there’s anything 2016 has taught you it’s that true and lasting experiences happen outside of the comfort zone you’ve built in apartment 404.

When you wake up in the middle of the night approximately 16 hours before the open mic starts, stand firm in your decision to go to Busboys and Poets. Surrender the opportunity to go to yet another forgettable bar with overpriced drinks. Invite him to your turf. Show him how you soak up the world, how you “Yasss” and “Mmmm” at the lines that tug on you. Show him your idea of a good time and let go of all that trying-to-be-cool shit.

Toss all of the clothes around your room an hour before you head out as the cat watches you with her eyes half-shut. Try on four crop tops and decide you are way too bloated. Flip Mother Nature the bird. Throw on a pair of boyfriend jeans and a tank top that says “Don’t be basic.” Feel absolutely and utterly basic in a shirt instructing you not to be basic. Settle on your favorite black pants, a tank top, and your denim jacket. Throw on your fedora for good measure.

Step outside. Catch your breath. Graze your fingers across the brick wall when you stride down the sidewalk. Leave all of the nerves upstairs where they belong, sprinkled among the dresses and jeans you didn’t hang back up.

Blast the music on your way there, Joe Budden’s Touch & Go. Roll the windows down. Soak up one of the last summer sixteen nights.

Order the French fries. Forego the alcohol.

Do not glance over at him when the featured poet says “You’ve got lips and I’ve got lips…” Instead feel the temperature between you two rise 4.5 degrees. Then blink back tears when she says the line that stings and sucker punches you all at once: “We haven’t done all this surviving not to dance.”

You, my dear, have certainly not done all this surviving over the past few years not to at least tango a few times with him. If nothing else, you deserve this dance. You and your skeletons, your shadows, and your sins all deserve this dance.

So, let it feel good. Let it pick you up, twirl you around, and take you wherever you are meant to be. That narrative of resistance no longer serves you. There is not anything resilient or beautiful about a heart that stays tucked away in its cage.

Relinquish the grip you’ve had on that heart. Understand that when the Universe brings a certain alchemy of human connection into your life, it’s no longer your choice whether the guard stays up or not. The guard will crash and crumble; bid it adieu while you watch it burn in the blaze of every time you said love doesn’t live here anymore.

And when your fingers sting with the temptation to write about this unexpected unraveling of experiences, let them. Censorship and shields aren’t what make you a writer. People will try to piece you and the details of your life together whether you give them permission to or not, so write what you feel and say what you mean and do as you please. Let your fingers yield the stories your heart never knew it was ready to tell.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Join The Movement: Announcing Love Me Well

September 15, 2016

Video produced and edited by Roconia Price, roconia@1919productions.com
Video also available at: 

Twenties Unscripted Presents Love Me Well
A Multimedia Series Celebrating and Elevating Black Love

Premiering Fall 2016

Join the movement by donating to the Love Me Well crowdfunding campaign HERE!


The Story

Back in January, I sat at a a Tapas restaurant with one of my friends and told her that 2016 was the year I would be open to love. When I said it, I thought I was sending some sort of signal to the Universe that I was ready for that life-changing, earth-shattering kind of love to sashay my way.

But, the Universe had something entirely different in mind.

Instead, declaring this as a year I would be open to love has meant a swirl of incredible, palpable, and authentic love circling in my orbit.

And,it’s no coincidence that the love around me has been beautiful, blossoming black love.

Black love is both interesting and intoxicating at a time such as this. It’s personal and political. It’s rare and revolutionary. It’s simultaneously widely celebrated while remaining viciously attacked. Black love is the tapestry of emotions we feel when we listen to LEMONADE. It’s the trumpet of pride that sounds through us when we look at The Obamas on the cover of Essence. But, black love is also breathing and thriving among every day, real people.

I believe the world needs to consume some of those black love stories now more than it ever has before.

And, I believe in the vision at the bottom of my belly to tell some of black love stories through Twenties Unscripted.


The Project

Love Me Well is a limited edition multimedia series debuting on Twenties Unscripted that aims to celebrate and elevate black love. The series, premiering during fall 2016, will tell the story of nine different couples at various junctures of their love journeys. Through photography and both written and podcast interviews, each couple will showcase their individuality and share a significant thread of their love story.

These couples will delve into topics at the epicenter of their unions, including:

  • Black love in a 21st century of black turmoil
  • Cultivating authentic and effective communication
  • The role of God and spirituality in a relationship
  • Building trust and transparency
  • Nurturing a family and raising children
  • Bridging gaps in age and background
  • Balancing careers
  • Cross-cultural black love
  • Juxtaposing black womanhood with vulnerability in a relationship

The Ask

However, I certainly can’t produce this project alone.

After four years at the helm of Twenties Unscripted, I have learned in the unparalleled power of tapping into the community you’ve built. Of leaning on your tribe. Of asking for help when you need it. Multimedia projects such as Love Me Well are the lifeblood of my brand, and it often times requires significant financial resources to pull them off.

Let’s do this one together.

Every contribution to the Love Me Well campaign will be used to offset the production costs of this project. This includes costs for:

Studio rental
Equipment for photo shoots and podcast interviews
Travel to photograph and interview couples
Photo editing fees

Thank you from the tips of my toes and the bottom of my belly for being a part of not only this project, but this movement. Let’s show the world just how extraordinary everyday black love really is.

So, what are you waiting for? Join the Love Me Well movement and contribute to the Gofundme campaign today!

Xoxo,
Tyece

Go Where Your Heart Is: On Stepping Back From My Annual Showcase

September 6, 2016

 

showcase collage

photography by @jazzthenoise

I will look back on 2016 and remember that this was the year I made peace with quiet. With open space. With blank canvases and untouched paint brushes. I will remember this as the year I stopped hearing the sound of the treadmill beneath my feet and listened to that of my beating heart instead.

I knew it when I climbed into a hotel bed in Crystal City back in March. Clad in my “See. Speak. Feel.” t-shirt that night after the show, I let my bare legs kiss the sheets and I told myself that something would have to give. I didn’t know what and I wasn’t sure when, but I absolutely knew that something would have to give. As spring melted into summer, I never felt quite right searching for new showcase venues. I let follow up emails from event coordinators grow stale in my inbox as I shied away from scheduling site visits or sharing any details about the budget.

Sometimes your heart offers up answers long before your right mind is willing to accept them.

My heart knew that I needed to take a step back ever since that night at the hotel in Crystal City. My heart knew that after three years of cultivating a cornerstone of my brand, I needed to catch my breath for more than just a season. My heart knew that I could not breathe life into something if doing so another time around would only leave me begging for air.

Choosing not to host “See. Speak. Feel.” in 2017 is both a simple and complicated choice, one that births questions I often times do not have answers for. When I have shared the news with those close to me, the first reaction has always been, “Well, what will you do instead?”

The answer is always, “I don’t know. The Universe will send something my way.”

I’ve learned to believe in the Universe’s timing. I’ve learned to listen to my heart. I’ve learned to make creative decisions unapologetically. I’ve learned that if something ceases to inspire me at any given moment, I am free to step away and savor the silence that remains. I’ve learned that if something is truly mine, it will always come back to me, often times better than how I left it.

“See. Speak. Feel.” will come back to me, more than likely in 2018. I know that this step back will give way to clarity, elevation, renewed energy, and a vision I could not have conjured up by simply remaining on the treadmill. This show sits in the most precious and sacred groove of my spirit, and I want to see it grow leaps and bounds. I trust that this break is only the prelude to that growth.

The biting cold of this upcoming winter will nip at my ankles more than it has in the past three years. I know that one day, sometime in the dead of January, a few sprinkles of sadness will shower me when I think about the call for artists I would have been working on or the opening act I would have been fighting to lock down. But I also know that in place of that work, something else will materialize. A project. A trip. A complete overhaul of my apartment. Whatever. That is how evolution works–it happens when you leave just a few lines on the page blank. It happens when you make the powerful and complex decision to go exactly where your heart is.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

How to Love an Artistic Woman

August 24, 2016

Disgust

Image courtesy of unsplash.com

Do not try to clean up her messes. Relinquish the need to keep all of the shelves stocked with everything standing neatly in its place. She does not need you to replenish her cupboards; she needs you to pour into her soul. That is what she will ask of you time and time again. That sometimes insatiable and often maddening hunger for her soul to be feed is what has driven many lovers before you away; she is a ravenous beauty and a deeply rooted beast.

Get comfortable with paint splattered on the walls and wine staining the bottom of the glass and lights that stay on until 2 a.m. Let go of the need for a normal kind of life. An autopilot kind of life. A bottom line kind of life. A “honey-I-made-your-coffee-just-right” kind of life. Do not ask her when she’s coming to bed.

She will come to bed. Eventually. When she does, she will wrap herself in you like headphones tangled in keys at the bottom of a purse–inadvertently, recklessly, a labyrinth of your bodies like she never even left.

Resist the urge to sling words like “sensitive” or “emotional” her way as insults. The world demonizes too many of us for what are simple displays of sheer humanity. Reward her with kisses on the nape of her neck for being one of the courageous few to strip herself of the facade.

Drop the cape. She does not seek salvation; she seeks purpose. Identity. A place in the world that she can unabashedly call her own.

Proceed with caution. She will not hand out points for showmanship or slick lines. Take everything you’ve ever learned about how to woo a woman and hurl it out the window. Let her peel back your layers. Be brave enough to peel back all one thousand of hers.

Remember she is not glass; you can hold her tightly. Despite what history might dictate, she will not shatter. Kiss her scars for good measure. Lick her wounds with fervor. Run your fingers over the burns of her past. Taste every story still standing on her skin. Read every poem still being written from her sin.

Teach yourself not to be afraid of the dark. She gives birth to her most striking art in the darkest places under the dimmest bulbs.

And when she shows all of her colors and emits all of her light, do not ever be afraid of that either. Stand in her sun; soak up her rays. Recognize the exquisiteness of her spectrum.

Love her because she is equal parts whiskey and wine. Love her because she is both a mess and a Mona Lisa. Love her every time she pulls you apart and puts you back together again. Love her when you’ve run out of words. Love her when she’s run out of words. Love her urgently. Unforgettably. Undoubtedly. Paint her in the watercolors of your adoration. Love her because if you dare to love this artistic woman, you may be the first person to ever love her the way she’s craved her entire life. Love her because if you dare to love this artistic woman, your love story will become the kind of masterpiece she couldn’t have ever crafted alone.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Through Thick and Thin

August 16, 2016

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I am on sip number one of Jack and Coke number two when he announces that he likes his women thick. And although I relinquished the inclination to knot myself in his frame awhile ago, the comment still stings my ears in a familiar fashion. I don’t like it. I try to brush it off and keep swaying to whatever the DJ is playing, but the words stick to my back like damp sweat under a dress on a hot summer’s night.

See, Black women are supposed to be thick. We’re expected to be thick. Our bodies are meant to swirl and curve and swerve and spiral in delicious and astounding ways. If they don’t do all of the above, we’ve somehow betrayed the norm and defied the preferred standard. Or at least that’s what I’ve learned and am now fighting to unlearn. That is what I’ve been told and am now working to untell myself. And, it is difficult to carve a new truth after years of the world force feeding you tablespoon after tablespoon of bullshit.

See, I’m learning that the gap between what Black women are “supposed” to be and all of the many things that we actually are is colossal and wide and deep and not quite close enough to being bridged.

I don’t want to write self-love anthems or body image anthems or any other anthems for that matter. I want to write the truth and serve it on the rocks. And the truth is my body does a lot less swirling and curving; it does a lot more standing straight. The truth is I’ve been known to settle in the mirror for a few minutes lifting my butt and fantasizing about what it would look like if it were “just a little bit bigger.” The truth is I am a ball of contradictions – a woman who urges other women to define themselves for themselves while still untangling her story from the raucous narration of Black men.

It is that narration that resounds every day while I fight to mold my own thoughts about the body I inhabit. It is that narration that crept up on me on Sunday afternoon in aisle 11 while I was simply trying to grab dishwashing detergent. It’s that narration that has made me an expert comedian when it comes to cracking jokes to my male friends about my less-than-rotund butt. It’s that narration that rolls off my tongue anytime I bop and sing Drake’s line, “And your stomach on flat flat/and your ass on what’s that.” It’s that narration that I am trying so hard to unhear after 26 years of letting it fill a few chasms in my self-esteem.

I would like to tell you that I am giving it all up–the appetite for validation, the listening ear to the body types I’ve heard Black men prefer, and the complicated relationship with my silhouette–but, that wouldn’t be quite true. Because most revelations about this life don’t come in singular Eureka moments or striking sweeps of the heart. The ways in which we grow up and unbind ourselves from the same shackles that shattered us are complex and unending, complicated and never quite complete. The ways in which we evolve and step into the fullness of ourselves are not nearly neat or seamless enough for the conclusion of a blog post.

There will be another moment when a Black man announces that he likes his women thick. I’ll still flinch on the inside. I’ll still wonder when it became kosher to stick the possessive pronoun “his” in front of an entire group of people. I’ll still grapple with drawing parallels between his statement and my view of my own body and womanhood. I’ll still be a mess of contradictions trying to throw away all of the puzzle pieces and reconfigure them the way I want. But, I will remember that I penned this piece and I hummed this hymn. I will remember that for a woman who has spent years writing her own story, it’s about time she started narrating it as well.

Xoxo,
Tyece