There Is More Love Left.


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.


Growth You Can’t See, Height You Can’t Measure


There is not a yardstick for this.

There are not rulers or scales or levers to measure the woman I’ve become. I can’t assess her according to numbers, can’t spit her out on the other side of an equation, can’t plot her on a graph where x marks the spot. I would be doing the woman I’ve become a disservice if I crammed her into the box of digits we so often and mistakenly appraise people by: salaries or weight or age or likes or karats.

All I know is that things are different now. Something is different now. The woman I am is different now.

Maybe I became this woman sometime in early spring, donning a flower crown and shedding inhibitions while drinking smuggled-in whiskey at a music festival. Or maybe I became her one balmy summer night on U street, flirting with a man who was once a much-needed jolt of electricity and now resides in the archive of my other fond memories. Maybe I became her some time in autumn when I gave my heart permission to grow five inches wider and let someone in. Maybe I became her sometime right before winter when I gathered all of the courage in my body and said goodbye.

Or maybe I became this woman during the more motionless moments–on the Sundays I sat with my cat folded next to me; on the weeknights when I lied on the couch contemplating all of the things that could be next; in the hours when I welcomed silence as an answer and not a threat; in the minutes when I chose to bid farewell to the things and people and feelings that no longer served me.

Or maybe I have always been this woman, this web of complexities, this yin and yang of free-spirited and committed, creative and corporate, spontaneous and forward-thinking, lost and somehow still found. Maybe this woman has always brewed beneath the surface and I spent too many years foolishly trying to measure her by arbitrary markers, force fitting her into the box of digits. Maybe this year I finally just let her be and live and dance and twist and shout.

Maybe she is better off that way.

So, at a time of the year when many people’s declarations tingle with the hope of everything they want to leave behind in the year ahead, I want to take the woman who always brewed beneath the surface with me. I am bringing her moxie and her newfound comfort with not always knowing what’s next. I am bringing her resolve and her familiarity with letting go. I am bringing her unpainted fingernails, her beloved neon pink sweater with the hole in it, and her inability to keep flowers alive. I am bringing her yin just as much as I am bringing her yang. I am bringing her heart, one that I know will expand again whenever the time is right and the person on the other end is ready for a heavyweight kind of love. I am bringing her spring and her summer, her autumn and her winter. I am bringing all of her seasons and all of the tides that turned within them.

I am bringing this woman I’ve become with me. She is my greatest compass for wherever the road weaves and however the wind blows. And when I survey this woman, I will know that there is not a yardstick or a scale or ruler on this planet that can measure her coming of age. Evolution is simply not a numbers game.

So if I could offer you anything in my last post of the year, among the chorus of feel-goodness you’ll consume in the coming days, maybe it’s this: a wish that we’ll put the measuring tape down in 2017. It’s a yearning that we won’t wedge the many ways in which we blossom into that box of digits that don’t matter. Instead, let the seasons come and let the tides turn. Let the moments bloom and let the mountains crumble. Let the messes spill and let the waves crash. Let the life happen and let the words follow. Be and live and dance and twist and shout. Grow in the directions not everyone can see. Stand tall in the ways that simply can’t be measured.


Let Go of Should, Hold On to Your Heart


The calendar is empty and the pages are blank. Every time they stare at me in hopes that I’ll fill them, I twiddle my thumbs and twirl one of my Senegalese twists. Something about the vast and unpredictable possibility of this new year grabs my throat and suffocates me. The perfect fairy tale of irony. It is only day five out of 366, and I’ve been bombarded with product launches, website redesigns, and snapshots of resolutions. It would appear everyone else is doing something other than twiddling their thumbs and twirling one of their Senegalese twists. I’m the last one left still belting out a love ballad for 2015.

And just like that, even after I know I’ve grown up, evolved, and yanked my big girl panties high on my hips, I still can’t dig my heels out of the sinking sand of comparison.

There’s this devil of a running list filled with everything I think I should do. Get on Periscope. Publish more features. Push the book. Read more books. Perform spoken word every month. Date online. Decide how I feel about the Oxford comma. Get a library card. Say yes when the vet asks if I want to pay extra to get Roxy’s claws clipped. Click “Install now” for my Apple updates. Figure out Photoshop. Smile in my selfies.

But, I skim that running list and, as a whole, it does not feel real or right or even necessary. It feels like this manufactured, starchy, and stilted version of myself, the one that takes her cues from the women on social media whose eyebrows stay on fleek. It feels like that version of myself who is still letting go of should and learning how to hold on to her heart.

Because then there are the things I want to do, the things that keep tugging at my pants’ leg and summoning my attention. Write with grit and audacity. Trash the fear I have for Google hangout. Host a writing challenge. Work with new writers to help them find their voices and summon fearlessness and get to the beautiful beating heart of their words. Quit hating my voice on video. Revisit more of my old work. Host fewer events and attend more of them. Plant roots, once and for all, closer to D.C. Retire saying I’ll be single until I’m 40 knowing that’s a defense mechanism. Give love a chance. Let Roxy’s claws grow and save the cash.

I do not skim that list. I read it over and over and over again. That list feels like me. It feels like the blood in my veins and the song in my soul and everything I want my fingertips to trace in the year ahead. That list looks like the real version of me, the one with sweaty palms and her tongue out in selfies.

Maybe we never quite let go of should, at least not in a world where we suck down tweets like water and breathe status updates like air. Maybe should is always there, tempting us and toying with us, reminding us of the supposed black holes we have yet to fill. Maybe it has gotten harder to hold on to my heart. But, doing so has always rewarded me far more than following through on every single thing I believed I should do.

The calendar is empty. The pages are blank. Every time they stare at me in hopes that I’ll fill them, I will tell them that my heart does not pulse according to should. No, my heart is a wild woman who writes her own songs and dances to their rhythms.


No Resolutions, Just Evolution

year end post 2015

I peeled the workaholic label off of my forehead, ripped it up, and let it fall on the sidewalk. April’s rain poured all over it. I lifted the perfectionist boulder from my back, dropped it under the hot July sun, and watched it bake. I abandoned a fear of change somewhere around September and listened to it crunch under freshly fallen leaves.

See, this year has been about letting go. This year has been about making room. This year has been about gracefully falling into failure. This year has been about planting my feet in purpose and standing on solid ground. This year has been about turning a blind eye to everything the experts say about branding and building and boosting my name. This year has been about mastering my craft. This year has been about embracing autonomy, breathing authenticity, and writing without apology. This year has been about creating work born from sunshine in my spirit and tear stains on my pillow case. This year has been about getting to the heart of the matter.

I can’t quite put it all into words. I can’t scoop up 365 days and plop them into paragraphs that relay a complete narrative. This time around, I do not have a list of neatly packaged lessons. Like most of us, my story is far from complete. The ends are still loose and the bows are not tied. Because it does not matter how much I let go. And it does not matter how much room I make. I will wake up on my friend’s hardwood floor on January 1, rosé and pinot grigio still alive and well in my system, and my evolution will still brew. The Universe will still be in the middle of whisking my perfect blend. I will still be building my dream from the ground up. This life is a boundless lesson in shedding our layers and facing our demons and making our way.

And, still, the stakes are high and fear nibbles away at my ankles, sometimes making it tough to walk. Still, I fight the urge to plan and steam the imperfections out of every detail. Still, I battle what feels like a natural inclination to shovel out my own path without leaving much room for the Universe to have its way. Still, I have to remember that rest does not reflect weakness, but rather radical self-awareness. Still, I have to remind myself that sometimes my plans are simply promises to myself that I easily break. Still, I have to recognize that there is something bigger and more beautiful out there, somewhere, that believes in me. There is something bigger and more beautiful out there, somewhere, that I absolutely have to believe in.

I can’t make any promises for the year ahead. I know I will continue to tell the stories and write the words that rise from that temple at the bottom of my belly. I know that rain will pour, and sun will shine, and wine will still fill my glass. I know that I will lament love lost and stare at the ceiling remembering all of the words I never said to the men I can’t quite forget. I know I will twerk off beat and cackle with my mouth wide open. I know that I will cry and laugh, sometimes in the same day, and occasionally in the very same breath. I know I’ll search for God in the corners I used to overlook. I know that this thing called life and these things called dreams will still tug relentlessly at my tiny beating heart. I know that purpose will still stream through me and the Universe will not allow me to cower or play small. I know that I will continue to be a spark. A blaze. A voice that stirs souls and sets passion into motion.

So, for the year ahead, I do not have any resolutions. But, I fully believe in the unfolding of my own evolution.


The Beautiful Plans We Made

january 5 post blog image

I can’t be the only blogger struggling with what to say for my first post of the new year. I can’t be the only blogger contemplating sucking down a second glass of wine just to help some words flow, just so I can muster up something slightly insightful to pen. I can’t be the only blogger who feels crushed under the pressure of all the New Year’s hoopla, feeling forced to capitalize on the fact that everyone is still embodying the “New Year, New Me” mantra five days in.

This New Year’s season was the first time I thought, “It kind of sucks to have a blog during New Year’s.” There is the surmounting weight of your year-end post, a post that squeezes your brain and sucks the life out of you as you attempt to contain the waves of a year in 1000 or so words. Then there are all of the blog relaunches, launches, new projects and other things to keep track of from everyone else. It seems so logical to roll out new plans at the beginning of the year (something I have already done and will continue to do throughout this week–consider it Twenties Unscripted Premiere Week) until you realize it’s tough to cut through the noise of everyone else’s new plans. And, of course, there is the mass of your first post of the new year. So, here we are.

Many of my plans for 2015 are currently housed in my tiny beating heart, taking up space in my brain. I have socialized some of those plans with a few trusted people in my tribe, electing to do as I said in my year-end post and “protect the vision.” Some of those plans, however, are things I will gladly share with readers. For instance, I’m writing less this year to free up room for bigger projects. There were times last year when I was writing four original pieces a week and while I love y’all, I love my sanity much more. This blog will always be my first love, but I am also at a point where I’m grateful that this space has given me the runway to work on larger-scale projects. So the plan is to write two posts a week as well as publish a guest post or feature once a week.

Some of my plans are the kind of plans that scare the living shit out of me, which are really the only plans I pursue nowadays. If it’s not bigger than life, if it’s not scary as shit, if it doesn’t give you chills, then it’s not outside of your comfort zone. It’s not forcing you to grow. And you should leave it the fuck alone.

And, finally, there is the uncertainty of the year ahead. The uncertainty we all have to accept, no matter how many mantras we post on our whiteboards or how many inspirational words we cut out from magazines. There is the grand, immense and inevitable unpredictability of these days that now sit so dreamily in front of us. There are the forks in the road we never saw, the events that will send us in a different direction, the moments in life that will shift all of the beautiful plans we made. There are better plans that will manifest, better ideas that will pop into our heads, new thoughts that will guide the old plans we made. There are new friends who will become a part of our old plans and old friends who will become a part of our new plans. There are people who will stay and people who will go and people who may re-enter. There will be revelations, resolutions, evolution. There will be bullshit, pain and battles that weren’t ever worth fighting. There will be beauty, love and happiness that’s simply unspeakable. It won’t necessarily be a good year or a shitty year, but it will be a year. And any year is filled with loveliness and shit.

So what else is there to do but stand firm and dream still? Believe still. Plan still. Hope still. Know that some days you’ll cry and other days you’ll laugh and some days you will just let the world quiet down so you can remain still. Some days you’ll fight and some days you’ll write and some days you’ll curl up with a glass of wine and shut everything else down. Some days you’ll soar, some days you’ll dip and some days you will be happy just to walk on solid ground. So stand. Believe. Plan. Hope. Love. Do the work. Do it some more. Embrace the uncertainty, soak it up and believe in its magic. You can’t plan for the uncertainty and you sure as hell can’t resist it when it appears. So let the road wind and let the rain pour. Happy 2015.