Category Archives: reflection

The Unbearable Weight of What If

October 23, 2017

There are some things still tangled in the boughs of your belly. Memories. Mistakes. Mayhem. Men. You’ve been carrying them around with you not realizing that these are not just things, but instead they are bricks. Weighing you down. Collapsing your core. Holding you back from the freedom to fly.

You will not know it. You will not know that every time your mind flickers to that memory or dances with the devil, your center of gravity sinks. You will not know it because it is so easy, or so it seems, to walk lightly even as your insides are cloaked in the weight of what if.

What if? You hardly ever say it aloud, and yet the idea still sprints through your mind, a stampede of fantasies you can’t quite seem to surrender. What if you reached out again? What if it never happened? What if you didn’t say that? What if you destroyed the memories of what was and penned a new story on a crisp set of blank pages?

And, perhaps most poisonous of all, what if he still thinks about you too?

This last one is the brick that weighs one ton, a theory you have dressed your heart in for months on end. It is the reason why you have grown cold and left your soul in limbo. It is the boulder pulling you down the most.

What if?

You will not know the toxin of what if until reality replaces reverie, and you aren’t left to wonder anymore. You will not know just how much what if was weighing you down until you let out a loud cry on a Sunday evening, your skin and hair still drenched from the shower, a hot pink towel wrapped halfway around your body. In that moment, there will not be anymore what ifs. There will only be you, your boundless curiosity, and the photo of him with his arms draped around another woman.

This is not what if. This is what is.

This moment will become your redemption song, a severe but necessary jolt to bring you back to what’s true. What’s real. What is yours and yours alone. This is your baptism by fire. Your blend of blind rage and breakthrough. This is the flash that will finally give you the freedom to fly once more.

You deserve a life that does not hinge on hypotheticals or doors only left halfway ajar. You cannot breathe off of sheer possibilities; you require much more air than that. You are the sum of stars and moons and entire galaxies; can’t you see how much love you have to give? You cannot fit gallons of your heart into a test tube of a man. They will spill over, only for him to tell you that you are the one who made this mess. You are not a woman who has to settle for fractions of affection; the totality of someone’s love is your birthright. Know that. Honor that. Cherish that. Preserve that. Do not spend another moment of this life overloaded by the weight of what if.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Velvet and Leather: The 28th Birthday Post

October 12, 2017

 

There is something magical about the way women can morph and expand, retract and reinvent. It’s a different sort of evolution than that of men. Because there is something unique and exquisite that happens to a woman’s insides when she falls in love or witnesses her heart shatter, gives birth or confronts death, reaches ground zero or rises to Mount Rushmore.

Most of the women you know have had one million lives in a single lifetime. They have danced at their weddings. They have fallen for the wrong men. They have won big and lost hard. They have started over. They have buried their husbands. Sometimes they buried their babies. They have walked away from six-figure salaries and started businesses. They have recovered and they have prevailed. Yes, there is something so magical about the way women move through this world. The way their feet touch the floor. The way their hearts float outside of their bodies.

It is only now as you’re on the cusp of your thirties that you have started stepping into your own magic. Morphing. Expanding. Retracting. Reinventing. It is only now as you’re on the cusp of your thirties that you identify first and foremost with being a black woman, an identity that’s dripping in equal parts splendor and struggle.

You have been so many different women during these past eight years. You’ve been a machine. A crop-top-wearing, soul-baring feminist. A hermit. A voyager across a tightrope without a net. A shrill voice on the Internet. A bundle of insecurities. A wild child. A fledgling. A fireball. A girl dying to be loved. A woman ready to be loved. A human being unsure of how to be loved. A terrible person. A good person. A halfway decent person. You have been one man’s sins and another man’s sunrise. A wino. A wannabe. And a writer, through and through.

Traces of each of these women are still somewhere inside of you, particles that compose the atoms of whomever you will become. Even now as you write this post, you feel rumblings of the woman you were in your early twenties beating ever so softly in the middle of your chest. You can’t always quell her as much as you crave. Sometimes you are just as bewildered and lovelorn as that girl you were at 23, bewitched from the ghosts of lovers gone by.

And yet, there are a multitude of differences between that woman and the one now staring at the sunset of her twenties. You think much more now about who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world. Bold intention has replaced blind ambition. You blog less because you cradle your words more. You don’t say the things you do not mean, let alone give voice to them on the Internet. You no longer yearn to be funny or cool or aloof. Instead, you want to be poetic and warm and affected. You consider the tapestry of both good and bad karma you’ve knitted for yourself over the years, so you try harder to do right by people. You try even harder to do right by yourself. Most days, you manage to get through and keep your soul in tact. Some days, you still blow everything up and watch it burn to ash.

You still love deeply. You still cry hard. You still screw up. You still want things and experiences that feel out of range. You still wonder when it will all make any sort of sense. You still wear your tough exterior with battle scars hiding underneath.

But, nowadays, you are both velvet and leather, a woman who has decided her softness and severity are allowed to coexist. You’ve relinquished that gnawing desire to be just one person or trot along just one path. You are beginning to understand the richness of being a mosaic. You lust after a life with countless textures.

I hope you will read this a year or ten from now, and rest assured knowing that this was only the first line of your life’s love ballad. I hope you will read this and realize just how much you were already well on your way. I hope you will read this and know that there is beauty on the other side of battle.  I hope you will read this and be that much closer to both the things that seem so near and those that still feel beyond your reach.

Happy 28th Birthday.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Arms Outstretched

September 15, 2017

I almost pass her by. I am on my way back from lunch scurrying up Wilson Blvd. as a pool of sweat begins to form in my cleavage. It is not until I’m right up on her that she catches my periphery. I do not read her sign. But, something about her posture punches me in the gut. She is not making eye contact with anyone. She is not asking for money. Instead, she is crouched low to the ground with her head bowed and her arms outstretched.

My mind instantly recalls the $10 dollar bill my coworker handed me less than an hour before so I could also grab her lunch. I remember how that bill is still balled up in my wallet because I paid for everything on my card, assuming the $10 dollar bill would be an unexpected treat I’d forget about and find in my wallet a few days later. But, there is something about her. There is something about this black woman who is crouched low to the ground with her head bowed and her arms outstretched that compels me to unzip my wallet.

I’d love to say this is something I do often. I’d love to tell you that I always find my heartstrings being yanked on as I pass paupers on metropolitan streets. But, I am not always a good human being or even a decent one. I, like so many others, can grow numb to the way the world chews people up and spits them up.

But, today, the emotional Novocaine wore off. And I saw this black woman who suddenly didn’t seem or feel or look so far away from me. I saw her more than likely praying to the same God who I’ve been trying to find my way back to as of late. I saw her on a sunny Friday afternoon fighting to live and smile and survive in a world that decided it would be fine to bypass her or, at best, keep her in its periphery.

Our eyes lock when I hand her the bill. And something about the way her voice bounces one note higher when she said “Bless your heart, sis” leaves me in tears both times I reminisce on the exchange.

I want to make some resounding statement about black women, but the truth is the way an encounter like that brings me to my knees is still brand new. I am still making sense of the way my passion for black women bubbles over. I am still finding outlets for anger that swells when I witness the inequities we experience. I am still figuring out how to keep my feet on solid ground when it seems as though the world just keeps spinning.

But, all I can do is fight to keep my heart wide open and my arms outstretched.

The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment [By Roconia Price]

July 25, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

The series rounds out today with Roconia Price.

Roconia is the quiet storm. When we first got together for a dinner at Founding Farmers in 2015, she spent a good fraction of the time just listening to me chat about everything and nothing. It wasn’t until the end of dinner when she peeled open a notebook to reveal a host of ideas for her upcoming event, each concept bubbling over with her signature sense of thoughtfulness and brilliance. Roconia’s creative genius often times speaks for itself; it doesn’t require pretense or pomp and circumstance. You don’t always see it coming, but when it does, it whips, roars and downpours. I’m so excited to close out the transformation and Turning Tides series with her piece, “The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment.” 


I can see you now. Telling the woman beneath you that your nana was Chippewa and that “Roconia” is Ojibwe for “honor.” I can see you tracing her lips with your thumb, telling her that’s why the word was inked on your left pec. Kissing her. For your nana. Kissing her. For honor.

Maybe you wouldn’t think twice about that day, your narrative feeling so natural it could replace the truth. Or maybe you would, diving deep into her neck to chase away that image of me before you on my knees, imploring you not to tattoo my name on your heart.

I might have been 20 then, maybe 21. I had only come back to haunt you. To give you just enough of me that you might thirst for more. To keep you close, clinging to the idea of my forgiveness so I could sting you like a scorpion, over and over again. I sat before you on my knees, giving you elevation over my eyes, but never again over my heart. I blinked calmly, coldly, as your declaration of love passed through me like air.

“Don’t,” I said.

I told you that day that your actions would not be reciprocated. That ink is not the AED for defiled trust, that it can’t undo disappointment, that under no circumstances would your name be permanently endorsed on my skin. You took it like a wounded soldier, valiantly limping to your next resolution. You didn’t care, you said. I could do what I wanted. But you would get that tattoo. And you’d tell anyone who asked that Roconia was your first love, that Roconia would always be the name in, and above, your heart.  

But I can see you now, using that same synthetic sincerity to reel in a new catch, spewing that guff about your Native grandma. And your lady would lap it up, believing that when she traced the writing on your chest, she was coming in contact with your honor.

I’ve tied a piece of my transformation to that moment on my knees. It was an undefining moment for me. One that had no direct correlation to the growth I’ve experienced since then, but one that still flares up when I think of the woman on the brink of a new me. There wasn’t any revelation that day. My heart and mind still tripped over each other like two left feet. After I refused your tattoo I fell back into your arms and we rocked to our own played out rhythm all afternoon.

This is me admitting to myself, to God, to the internet, that in some ways, I have not grown much since then. I can still be Petty Price, laughing at the woman you cheated on me with, and the baby that surprised us both. Letting you access me on social media so you can eat your heart out, tattoo and all. But in other ways I’ve matured like a 1994 Bordeaux. I only give the kindness and forgiveness I want to receive, and never say it’s okay when I truly don’t mean it.  No longer hold anyone close with the hope of getting the knife in a little deeper.

My life seems to be a series of these undefining moments and I’ve named them like art in my autobiographical  gallery.  The Girl on Her Knees; The Girl in the Basement; The Girl at the Book Fair; The Girl in the Principal’s Office; The Cool Girl; The Girl in the Law Office; The Girl in Church; and my latest, The Woman.

I want to believe that as I grow I become all around better. But I’m more like the silt at the bed of a river, being sifted and settled in an array of areas by the undetected tides of time. I am not a better woman today, just a different one. And the tides keep turning.

Roconia Price is a storyteller and creative spirit, running on sunlight and sisterhood. She writes at eversoroco.com. She is very tall.

When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been [By Ashley Coleman]

July 17, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Ashley Coleman.

Ashley is the mover and shaker. Whether she’s penning books, hosting workshops or standing at the helm of Permission to Write, her boundless energy never ceases to amaze me. It’s no surprise that she was the first person to send her guest post in for this series! But, aside from her unwavering discipline, Ashley intimately understands the DNA of her dreams. She is unafraid to take risks, innovate, improvise and do what’s necessary to translate her aspirations into action. I’m beyond inspired by her hustle, and I’m grateful for all the ways she roots for me and encourages me to push forward. I hope you enjoy her piece “When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been.”


It’s getting harder to remember who I was in my twenties. The things that I did, the jobs that I worked, the people I was around are all vivid. But the mindset evades me.

I think I’ve become so enveloped in who I want to be that the memories of who I was seem to be fading. All things become new right? But I try. I try to pull her up. I try to look back through those eyes. The girl who spewed anti-religious rhetoric before she knew who God was for real. The one who wasn’t sure she would ever love anyone the way she loved him. The budding songwriter. She’s peculiar to me now.

I see my higher self. Almost like she’s trapped and if I keep banging hard enough eventually the glass will shatter. I have laid myself on the altar because trying to do it all on my own has just left me tired and frustrated. I am learning the depth of what it means to be easy. Of what it means to be scarily focused yet extremely flexible all at the same time. I am learning what it means to have peace. Real, from the inside peace that is not easily shaken by outside stimuli.

I don’t want to be who I’ve been.

Ambitious yet doubting in my spirit because it’s just not moving fast enough. Wanting more money to have options but being afraid of who that makes me. Being grateful but wanting more. Wanting to send the card on time and be thoughtful, but constantly missing the mark.

The constant warring is unhealthy and to take a note from Nayyirah Waheed, “all the women in me are tired.”

I read the other day in the Bible that I am light and that a house built on a hill can’t be hidden. But can I be honest and say that sometimes I do feel hidden? Sometimes I feel like there is this huge life on the inside of me that for some reason just can’t get out. Recently, I have felt like I am in the way. Like I am the obstacle and the barrier for that life to escape and if I just could move. If I could just change and it’s both encouraging and maddening all at the same time.

See, because if it’s just me that’s in the way, that’s the one thing that I can control. But there is a pruning that needs to take place. A refinement. I need to be ushered into my best and highest self, which is no easy feat.

So much of this life has been about chasing things. About materialism and achievements and accolades. But in this space, I realize how much of my life needs to be about chasing me. Making the best decisions for myself, believing in myself, letting go of the nagging voices that just try to tell me I’m not good enough. Or that make me take for granted all that I do have, all that I am.

There is no more time to play small. There is no more time to simply react to life instead of setting the tone. This is your life, what will you do with it, Ashley? This is what I have asked myself on multiple occasions.

I can’t afford to wait for the tide to turn, I’m turning it.

I don’t want to exist in a life that feels stuck and unresolved and full of maybe ifs. I don’t want to exist in a life where I am plagued by the memories of good times instead of creating new ones. I will live assured, fulfilled, and with unmatched confidence.

The reality is I am not who I’ve been. Who I was would not even be able to see this clearly. I’m wedged in between who I was and the woman that I want to be, and I see her so clearly. I am the bud on the brink of blooming.

“I’m in charge,” to be read like Taryn Manning in Hustle & Flow. I am in charge of the transformation. I am at the helm of the ship. My thinking, my mind. That’s where it starts. The steering. Our lives will go in the direction of our thoughts. What have you been thinking?

I know for me, it has not been that I am fully capable and worthy of every great thing. But it is changing. It is morphing. It is transforming.

The girl in my twenties, I am okay with letting her go and realizing that the journey I am on may leave me unrecognizable on the other side.

Ashley Coleman is a writer and entrepreneur based in Philadelphia. The cultivator of the online space WriteLaughDream.com, she writes about life, love, and pursuing goals as a writer. She splits her work between helping other writers develop their voice and writing habits through one-on-one sessions, courses, and workshops and her own work in books like “Dear Love” and “Love on Purpose.” Ashley has been a guest lecturer at Temple University and a guest speaker at Blogalicious 8 in Atlanta. Her work has been published in GRAMMY.com, Essence.com, JUMP Magazine and more.