I want to write this before the endorphins run away. I want to write this before the pool of sweat sitting on my chest dries and before I peel off the sports bra that’s stuck to my back. I want to write this now so that I don’t ever forget this feeling, this high, this new memory of my current metamorphosis.
Yesterday marks the first workout class I’ve gone to since 2012, which was not-so-coincidentally the same year that I started Twenties Unscripted. Because in 2013 I wrote four days a week. And in 2014 I drove myself up and down walls trying to build a brand. And in 2015 I wrote a book. Year after year, I folded excuses into paper airplanes, sprinkled a balanced version of myself on top of them, and sent them off to outer space. I’d like to think regret is too strong of a word when I look back on that time, but maybe negligence is more fitting. It would be a misnomer to say I ever lost myself during those hustle years; you can’t lose a version of yourself you never had. But you damn sure can arrest the person you’re meant to be if you hold on to the handcuffs of your past.
There comes a time when the whir of the treadmill beneath your feet stops sounding like a song you’d like to keep running to; that happened to me right as the leaves started to fall in 2015. It doesn’t mean I would undo all of the work or uncry any of the tears. I wouldn’t strip my dream of the sacrifice because I don’t believe there would have been any other way to push this boulder uphill. But, now, I have come up for air and there are other dimensions of my life ripe with opportunity. Anaïs Nin would tell you there are other layers. Other constellations. Other stars.
There are other perfect storms inside of me whose winds I am ready to let rip and roar.
If you were to sum up present day in Drake lyrics it would go something like “And, really, I think I like who I’m becoming.” If you wanted to bottle it up according to Nayyirah Waheed it would be: “i am mine. before i am ever anyone else’s.” If you asked Zora Neale Hurston, she would tell you there are years that ask questions and years that answer them; she might even remark that I spent way too many of the early years digging for answers instead of letting life reveal them. And if you wanted to steal the mantra from Shonda Rhimes’, 2016 would be my year of yes. But, if you were to simply ask me, I would tell you that I am both a mess and a beautiful disaster, a woman finally taking time to soak up the kind of life that gives her butterflies.
There are still days when the music stops. No matter how much you did, have done, or are about to do, there are still days when your well runs dry. You worry what’s next. You claw at the corners and beg them to bring you inspiration. You swing your feet at the edge of the cliff and shake your fists to the sky. It matters not how hard you’ve worked, how many hurdles you’ve jumped, or how many brick walls you’ve broken with your bare hands. There are still days when the music stops.
It seems as though those days never quite go away. Or, maybe they do and I simply have not taken enough breaths in this life to know it just yet. But, for me, those days do not end. Maybe they subside. Maybe they hibernate. Maybe they shrink from a roar to a whisper. But, there are still days that leave me feeling small and inconsequential, sunken and incomplete. There are still days when I cry for some sort of sign that I am on the right path, only to be met with a deafening whir of white noise.
I used to hate those days. And, perhaps I shouldn’t write that in past tense because I still do. I still hate those days. They leave me feeling dazed and confused, empty and inadequate. Those days leave me rolling my eyes at hashtags and sucking my teeth at Twitter chats. Those are the days that send me a shiny invitation for a coffee date with my stunning self critic. She sits cockily on the other side of the table. She tells me I am foolish and takes a sip of her drink. She tells me I should suck it up and settle for the life I have. She tells me I want too much. I expect too much. She narrows her eyes and asks me, “Who are you to have the audacity to want such an extraordinary life?” She sips. I sip. We drink until there’s nothing left.
Last week I had one of those days when the music stopped. 6:06 p.m. One of my last hourlong bus rides before moving for an easier commute. A dreary sky for the greater balance of the day. A day when nostalgia made a home in my heart and nested there for the afternoon. A hollow pit where bursts of creativity lived only a few weeks prior. A clear inbox. No one asking me what size paintings they should bring to the showcase or how long their set could be. A buzz of elevator music humming inside my little effervescent heart, the same place where a soundtrack of inspiration played days before. Yes, last week I had one of those days when the music stopped. Last week I had one of those days when I wondered what on God’s green and gritty earth I’m doing with my life.
But, I still had these words. I still had all these things and all these thoughts–spilling ferociously from my heart and pleading for a page to call home. Because, somehow, even when the music stops, my love for the craft keeps dancing to its unbreakable two step. When the music stops, I learn to savor the quiet and soak up the rest. When the music stops, I’m reminded that the passion does not. The fervor does not. The rush from conceiving new ideas and bearing witness as they come to life does not ever leave my veins.
On the days when I wonder what I’m doing with my life, that life tells me to turn on Norah Jones’ “Sunrise.” That life tells me to pour a glass of wine. That life tells me to keep walking down this jagged and narrow sidewalk with my heart open and my head to the sky. On the days when I wonder what I’m doing with my life, that life has already offered the answer by way of the fire that flows through my fingertips.
So, when the music stops, I rise to the challenge of writing a new song.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection. ~Buddha
You can Google self-love and find a wealth of quotes. But loving yourself is a concept that takes years, guts, and next-level courage to truly harness in everyday life. There are two women leading the charge when it comes to empowering other women to love themselves, accept their flaws, and bask bravely in their true selves. Those two women are Roconia, founder of Moredinary, and Yetti, founder of Certified 10. In a few weeks, the pair will team up for their first joint event, Think This Way, a workshop that will equip women with ways to reshape negative thoughts and transform them into something much more positive. In this Q&A, they each discuss what sparked them to create their organizations, what they hope attendees get out of Think This Way, and why it’s so important for women to come together in person for these sorts of events.
1) Tell us a little bit about your own self-love journey.
Roconia: I wouldn’t exactly call it a self-love journey. 1. Because I don’t really use that term and 2. because I didn’t wake up one day and decide to embark on any kind of journey. But in recent years I kind of realized I was alive and decided I should treat myself as such.
Yetti: Well it’s pretty short, and a tad a bit cliché. I learned to berate myself at a fairly young age. Berating turned into self-mutilation. Self-mutilation turned into a stint at the hospital, and after realizing that years of being shitty to myself wasn’t working out so well, I figured I’d try something new. I’ve been experimenting with this self-love thing ever since.
2) What sparked you to create Certified 10 and Moredinary?
Roconia: In a way both you and Yetti helped spark the beginning of Moredinary. Moredinary is something that I’ve always wanted to do, I just didn’t have the words to describe it because it wasn’t an occupation I could find in a career handbook. With Moredinary, I get to utilize every single one of my best skills from writing to event planning to creativity to building genuine connections. I’d say the idea for Moredinary was officially sparked at your event last spring, Mimosas & Men. With the help of Yetti, and her passing all of her Mimosas to me, I’d officially decided, then and there, that I was going to get started on my organization. I’ve been in a frenzy ever since.
Yetti: February 16, 2016. I didn’t want another woman to feel as lost, or as sad, or as empty as I did that day. I didn’t want this to be something my little sister ever felt. We learn how to add and subtract in school, but we’re not taught to take care of our self-esteem, or our mental health. We go to doctor offices or the hospital when we are physically wounded, but what about the wounds you can’t see?
That’s pretty much it. That’s why I created Certified 10. To fill a void the world refuses to acknowledge.
3) Roconia, Moredinary envisions a world where every woman is exactly who she wants to be–mentally, physically, and professionally. What do you think that will look like for our society and what is the top way women can get to that state on a personal level?
I think it looks like women getting up every morning and putting on whatever they want–be it a bowtie, a skirt, a dress, or pants–and going about their day without regard to societal norms and the pressure they place on women to be a certain way.
On a personal level, I think it starts with belief. If a woman believes she can, God help the (wo)man who stands in her way.
3) Yetti–Part of the Certified 10 vision is for every woman to celebrate, own, and love her individuality. Of those three actions (celebrate, own, and love), which do you feel is the most difficult to do and why?
Oh, boy. They’re all hard to do because they all pretty much go hand in hand. To love yourself, and I mean to truly love yourself, it also mean you own and accept bits and pieces of yourself that others do not understand, that society has taught you to hate, or that you have neglected for whatever reason. Owning what you bring to the table and what you are worth means you celebrate your existence and things about you that are different, or stick out like a sore thumb. It’s you practicing self-care, which brings you right back to loving yourself because that is the ultimate way to self-care. They all go together, and are all very much difficult to do, but not because they’re daunting tasks, but because if you fail at one, you will eventually fail at them all.
4) Why is it important to move beyond the online world and host live events for women?
Roconia: There’s a certain connection that you can only get in person. You can’t feel the electricity in a room through Google Hangout.
Yetti: Because everything is better in person, let’s be honest here. Writing about it doesn’t have the same impact as watching someone be about it. Not to mention with the live events Certified 10 and Moredinary put together, one of our major goals is to foster a community women feel comfortable in. I think it was you who actually said it best in a “snail mail” letter, that you appreciated the intimate setting of the first Back 2 Basics event. You can’t create that kind of setting on the Internet. You just can’t.
5) What do you hope attendees gain from Think This Way?
Roconia: I hope that women gain a new appreciation for their thought life. I hope they find the activities that we do at Think This Way to be applicable in their everyday lives. And I really hope they gain a new friend. I know some amazing women coming to the event.
Yetti: Honestly, I hope we can help them see the beauty and the benefits in a positive mind. After this event, I want our attendees to feel absolutely in the wrong when they have a negative thought about themselves. I want that thought to feel uncomfortable. I want them to continue questioning negative thinking and then correct it. Out with the self-deprecating, in with the celebrating. I’m also hoping they leave feeling like they have a close-knit community they can always count on.
Roconia: I see Think This Way building on women’s betterment in one of the most important areas of their lives: their minds. I think this will help women get on their way to being as Moredinary as possible.
Yetti: I never really thought about it, but I do hope this won’t be last time we see these beautiful women. Like mentioned before, we’re a community. I hope they see this and come back for more.
Yetti, of yettisays.com, provides the average twenty-something-year old with the uncensored truth sometimes served with a side of wit, sarcasm, and a few curse words. She’s also founder of Certified 10, the organization and movement teaching women to fall madly and deeply in love with themselves. Twitter |@yettisays + @thecertified10 Roconia \ruhCONNuh\ (n.) a beautiful balance between blessed and broken. Founder of Moredinary. Creator of Ever So Roco. Storyteller. Revolutionary. Twitter:@eversoroco Website: Ever So Roco
Love what you’ve read from these ladies today? Enter below to win a free ticket to the Think This Way event taking place on Saturday, March 19 at noon in DC!
And, don’t forget to chime in during the Think This Way Twitter chat tomorrow, March 2, at 9 p.m. EST using the hashtag #ThinkThisWay.
She told me it was going to be an amazing year. But, my mind was already numb from the champagne and my feet already hurt from the high heels. So, I probably just sent back some incoherent text, laced with one too many emojis, telling her how much I loved and appreciated her.
She told me it was going to be an amazing year.
But I probably didn’t believe her back in early September. I probably didn’t believe her when I moved into a new apartment and only three days later found myself sitting on the living room floor, wanting to shred all of my plans and shatter this facade that I have it all together. And I probably didn’t believe her back in early May when it felt like I didn’t know how to do anything other than burn bridges and torch tunnels. And I definitely didn’t believe her in late August when the book sales dried up and the soldier in me burned out.
Because what she didn’t tell me is that an amazing year is usually disguised by setbacks. Screw ups. Moments of reckoning and hours of the Universe’s recklessness. An amazing year throws its punches and swings its bat. An amazing year doesn’t always feel good. Or comfortable. Or sure. Or amazing.
But, an amazing year is one that demands you to evolve. Let go. Take a risk.
Everyone likes to tell the story about wanting to give up. It’s a popular one. A magnetic one. A glamorous one. One that shows people we can grow wings and fly above the flames of our pasts. We like to tell the story of how we rise above and arrive.
This isn’t a story of how I’ve risen above. Or arrived.
Because some days I still want to give up. And some days I still wonder what crazy yet sacred pull keeps bringing me back to this place. I wonder precisely what work God is doing. Some days I cock my head to the sky and stretch my hands to heaven and ask for a sign, any sign, that I am on the right path. Some days I don’t want to drag myself to a computer to slay the dragons for everyone else to scrutinize. Some days I want to come home, heat up leftovers and watch reality TV until I fall asleep on my old futon.
Some days I still want to give up.
But, then I remember this amazing year. This year that looked at me straight on, raised its brow and asked if I was going to stretch or remain stagnant. This year that revealed if you want the good, you must stomach the bad. This year that proved to me you can make the decision without having all of the answers. This year that laughed at me for thinking I could ever have all of the answers. This year that forced me to reach beyond any comfort zone and dance outside of every box.
She told me it was going to be an amazing year.
But, all I could do was tug at a dress that was too short and convince myself that is what people tell their friends on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t want to believe her. Because believing her would mean knowing this year would be a yin of beauty and a yang of battle. And believing her would mean knowing I wouldn’t leave 2015 unchanged or unscathed. And believing her would mean imbibing the lightness of a Riesling and the heaviness of a Cabernet when it comes to this life. Believing her would mean believing in myself and a God I was convinced I had given up on. Believing her that night, with my heels hurting and my mind swirling, would have been too much back then.
I don’t want a life of empty promises for coffee dates. I did not sign up for that. I did not sign up for “Let’s keep in touch” only to forget your name three months later. And I did not sign up for “OMG, miss your face” without you ever trying to see my face. I don’t want hollow and I don’t want empty and I don’t want fake. I want authentic and rock solid and a phone picked up at 2 a.m. when the world yanked me somewhere I never wanted to go.
The validation from strangers on the Internet felt good for awhile. Fueled me. Haloed me. Filled me up with bubble gum and rainbows. But it did not last. Because the validation from strangers on the Internet didn’t furnish the gaping holes in my spirit. It didn’t undo the terrible things. It did not cancel out the hideous memories. So I had to do the work. Because validation from strangers on the Internet does not do the work.
I bid farewell to a friend a few years ago who I thought I would grow old. I recently sat on the porch with his mother recently fighting to remember him, while gripping every inch of sanity I had so I did not disintegrate in the process. I’ve gotten my heart shredded. Loved men who could never fathom loving me back. I’ve written a book. Built my dreams from nothing but dust and tenacity. I’ve started over and over and over again. And in that time, I’ve realized few things in this life are ever entirely bitter or completely sweet. Everything comes with its teaspoon of sour. But, if you’re lucky and patient and introspective enough, there is usually a tablespoon of sweet. Usually.
I do not know about your parents. I don’t know if you talk to them every day or every week or every month. I don’t know if you love them or hate them. I hope it’s the former. But, a few months ago my parents hinted at retiring far away from our East coast roots, and suddenly, they became my priority. Seeing them. Calling them. Letting them in and hearing them out. Making an effort. A conscious, concerted and die hard effort. See, I do not know about your parents. But, I do know they will not be here forever. Like everything else in this life, that time with them is finite, a precious but forgotten stream that we often times let slip through our fingers.
Too many of my peers overrate building a brand while overlook building themselves up. I got that wrong for so long. Too long. I tethered my whole heart to an entity that could be gone tomorrow if the WordPress messiahs up and leave. I threw myself into work thinking “workaholic” was a moniker to be worshipped, not avoided. But, it is not. It is not OK when you can’t sleep or eat or breathe without thinking about your work. Passion doesn’t mean broken friendships. Passion doesn’t mean blowing off your sister when she calls and passion doesn’t mean you can’t throw a drink back and just enjoy life. I didn’t see that. Because people would pat me on the back and everything looked good, I let myself crash and burn. I fell hard and I fell into flames. More than once. But, the finishes don’t mean a thing if the house isn’t built on a firm foundation.
People will be shitty and people will be good. They will pull the rug from under you and they will lift you up when you least expect it. Few people in this life are entirely warm or cold blooded. Fragile, yes. Fucked up, yes. Beautiful, yes. But hardly ever just a good cop or bad cop.
There aren’t any traffic lights when it comes to your evolution. There is not any flashing red telling you to stop nor is there an inviting green summoning you to fly full speed ahead. Your gut is your guide. Listen when she speaks. She will speak softly, but if you ignore her, that’s when the Universe will boom.
Better to be a burst of energy than a loose canon. People want you to light up a room. They do not, however, want you to set it on fire. Emotions have been my greatest compass, but they have also led to many downfalls. Because somewhere in between our emotions and the moment the shit hits the fan is the opportunity to channel and process. I forfeited that opportunity for way too long.
If you can find one solid friend with benefits in this life, you’re good. If you can find one best friend in this life, you’re great. And if you can find lasting love in this life, you will always find your way back home.
We can spend an ungodly amount of time hungry for inspiration when most days it’s closer than the skin underneath our fingertips. I call that so-close-I-didn’t-even-realize-it inspiration my sister. My sister who ran a half-marathon. My sister who did a complete 180 in every aspect of her life. My sister who answers the phone for me every day. My sister who made choices for herself, independent of seeking approval. My sister whose bravado and resilience are two of the most prominent reasons I have been able to evolve and grow at all. I’m always digging around for quotes or anticipating a revelation when I read someone else’s blog post. But the real inspiration has been right under my nose this entire time.
I don’t confuse speaking my truth with being an asshole. Speaking my truth means liberation of self without demolition of others. It does not mean hurting feelings or shredding hearts. That is not speaking your truth; that is insecurity running rampant and throwing a temper tantrum. They say if everyone loves you, something is wrong. But if everyone hates you, something sure isn’t right. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing.
This life is short and this life is long. So I believe in good people and cheap wine and keeping a blank page within arm’s reach. I believe in best friends and bare feet on green lawns. I believe in hard work and a hunger to see what the end will be. And I know that everything I know now is simply a bunch of chicken scratch that I will someday revisit, revise and maybe erase completely.