Category Archives: reflection

Do Not Dare To Dim Your Light (A Note To Self)

March 19, 2018

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll walk into European Wax Center and the sign on the door will catch your eye. “Walk in, strut out.” You’ll roll your eyes a little bit at the marketing and how women are supposed to have an extra pep in their step after they’ve had hair painfully ripped from their bodies. But before you can digest that thought, the woman at the front counter will ask you your name, and you’ll tell her who you are, full government. You still won’t think much of the exchange until she comments, with the slightest bit of toxin in her tone, that you “strutted in here like you owned the place.” You’ll laugh and say “I’m just here for a wax,” but the irony isn’t lost on you. After all, how dare you strut into a setting that you are merely supposed to walk into?

People hear it in the click of your heels and from the first note off your tongue. They see it in your eyes. They read it on your lips, sometimes nude and other times painted a deep burgundy or a playful purple or an unforgettable red. But maybe more than anything, they feel it when you step into the room and somehow the energy shifts in a way that is palpable. Visceral. Unexpected.

This is called your light.

Some days it is a spark. Other days it is a wildfire. But most days it is slow burn, one that you emit in a quiet and powerful way that cannot be contained.

To whom much is given, much is required. You will recite this to yourself sometimes sitting at stoplights or right before a big meeting at work. You learned somewhere along the way that God does not give us light without also giving us responsibility. Weight. A duty to carry out. A purpose to fulfill. It is not enough to illuminate; you must also show up in every space and burn brightly.

You’ve learned that light is not a universal language. There are people who will gravitate toward it. There are people who will fight to darken it. There are those who will dismiss it and those who will bring even more of it out of you. There are people who were once enamored by your rays who are now hoping for your sun to set. This is all par for the course.

You will spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how you can protect your light. You will learn who deserves it and who does not. This is a lesson of trial and error, one you will get wrong many times before you get it right. You will ignite for men who can only manage to flicker for you. You will guard your blaze intently so others can not snuff it out. You will come to realize that when it comes to light, sometimes it inspires and other times it intimidates. Most times it does both in the same day.

And yet, I still dare you not to dim your light. Not for the sake of others. Not for their comfort or their acceptance or their ease or their insecurities. I dare you not to dim your light even when it seems like the road would be more easily trodden should you just go along and shrink a few sizes. I dare you not to dim your light even when it feels like the odds are against you and it would make everyone else’s life much more simple if you just stopped shining. I dare you not to dim your light even when you lose some people you loved, even when spreading your light poses more risks than it offers rewards, even when you want to close the blinds and shut the shades.

You are both lighthouses and torches. Sunrises and lanterns. Dawns and daybreaks. The entire Earth is somewhere inside of you ready to beam. Why won’t you let it?

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll sign the receipt at European Wax Center and the woman behind the counter will make it a point to tell you there’s some lipstick on your teeth. You’ll thank her and smile into your iPhone camera to fix it before you go. You’ve learned by now that some gestures are born from kindness and some gestures rise from strange and insecure places. It’s often times hard to parse out the difference. You’ll chalk this one up to a woman who saw you dare to strut in, so she wanted to make it a point that you only walked out. But you will strut anyway. Because this has nothing to do with your stride. This is called your light.

There Is More Love Left.

December 28, 2017


Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

I’m about to hop on I-83 and head back home after Christmas when two iMessages from my best friend pop up. Enclosed are screenshots from what I presume is some sort of horoscope website. The blurbs do exactly what blurbs like that are intended to do–reaffirming things I’ve believed or wanted to believe, corroborating my truths, and resurrecting sentiments I’ve felt somewhere deep underneath my skin.

2018: You are supposed to learn how to let your garden feed you. This year is about finishing up what began in 2016, and allowing yourself to thrive in it. It is about making serious relationship commitments, becoming more financially stable than ever, and adjusting to your highest vision of yourself – because deep down, that’s who you’ve been all along.

I almost don’t want to absorb the paragraph. I would rather let it slide off my shoulders and land in puddles on the pavement. I don’t want to think about my garden or how, as the previous paragraph stated, I’ve been stomping all over it this year. I don’t want to consider how many more flights of stairs lead to the highest vision of myself. I don’t want to remember how much I’ve been clawing to become a financially solvent, real-life adult. And, I certainly don’t want to think about serious relationships commitments. But, somehow, the paragraph attaches itself to me and I can’t quite seem to let it go.

Finishing up what began in 2016 implies returning to the most free and unencumbered version of myself. I loved that woman. Some days, I miss that woman and I wonder where she went. And then I remember that I locked her neatly in a treasure chest this year, alongside vulnerability and trust and openness. 2017 was the year of folding myself up into ornate and beautiful stacks that could not be destroyed. Because somewhere along the line I learned that love, or anything that resembles it, requires you to undo yourself. And, this year, my heart and my stomach and my knees and my elbows could not withstand the weight of unfolding once more.

But, something tells me there is more love left.

There is more love left on each of the puzzle pieces of the woman I became this year. Fragments of that woman are wedged in between the couch cushions of a therapist’s office on the plaza level of a high-rise condo. Bits of that woman are sprinkled on the balcony stairs of Alfred Street Baptist Church. Parts of that woman are stuck in between the pages of GRE books. Slivers of that woman are still on this blog. Scraps of that woman are somewhere in the sand of Virginia Beach. That woman is both everywhere and nowhere, scattered and contained, here and already on her way to the next stop.

Yes, there is more love left.

There is more love left somewhere in the canyon of my belly and the chasm of my laugh. Somewhere on the right side of my body, sandwiched in between the loopy curves of a tattoo. Somewhere on the left side of my body, sprawled across a sea of bare skin. There is more love left on my lips and my thighs and my neck and my spine and all of the other residences where sometimes I swore that there could not possibly be any more love left.

There is more love left.

There is more love left underneath the layers I bundle up in and the masks I wear and the walls I build. There is more love left behind my eyes, a pair that stared into the mirror of a bar bathroom not too long ago as I wondered whether I’m designed for the kind of love so many of my friends have already seized and sealed. There has got to be more love left somewhere in my tangled hair and my tender heart.

Yes, there is more love left.

There is more love left even after breakdowns in the bathroom and nights spend switching between SZA and Solange. There is more love left even after that one evening in a Philadelphia hotel where I played Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams on repeat and woke up in the middle of the night with my tummy twisted into one million knots. There is more love left even after I ripped my way through a bevy of lovelorn emotions with the soundtrack to prove it.

My God, there is more love left.

And, I do not know whether that love is in crevices or ravines or corners. I don’t know whether that love is hiding or standing in broad daylight. I don’t always know where that love will come from, nor do I know where it will lead. But, all I know is that somewhere underneath the sun there has got to be more love left.


That Tangled Something That You Feel

December 19, 2017

Photo courtesy of

Buried somewhere in my email inbox is an eight-message thread from February 18, 2013. A few thousand words. A mothership of emotions. Line after line exposing my bluff.

I liked him. A lot. More than I should’ve. More than I said. And it’s easy and almost irrelevant to state the obvious now, but somehow it wasn’t so simple then. Back then, I wanted so deeply in my gut to be unbothered. Untethered. Unaffected. Unattached. I wanted every part of my identity steered by a prefix that meant “not.” I yearned not to be so many things that I never took stock of everything, every bit, and every broken piece that I was.

I’ve been thinking about that girl I used to be a lot these days. I’ve been thinking about how the distance between what she feigned and what she actually felt spanned for acres. I’ve been thinking about that email thread. Ive revisited it on occasion. Sometimes for inspiration. Sometimes for a jolt to the joints. Sometimes for a reminder of how far I’ve come.

I don’t know where in the web of dating women begin to suppress themselves and shape shift into people they are not. I’m not sure who teaches us to tone it down or play it cool or pretend to be something we simply aren’t. I’m not sure when we begin to contort and curve so as not to seem too much of this or too little of that. But, I know that we do these things. And maybe we do them for so long that then we have to fight to undo them. We have to untwist our limbs. Unleash ourselves. Lay waste to all of walls we fought so hard to build.

That is where I am now. Untwisting. Unleashing. Laying waste. Making peace with the deluge of emotions I bring to any relationship. Appreciating that I am not a woman who is easily contained.

And while the hard truth is that I am still somewhere in between frozen and thawed out, I’m done shape shifting. I’m done accepting fragments of affection. I can no longer just get along with a love that’s only good enough. There comes a point where you grasp that grown women learn to stop playing pretend. There comes a point where you connect with another human being on this planet and begin to honor that tangled something that you feel.


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.


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.