Translation: F*ck You.

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Most Fridays, I’m usually in bed by 10 p.m., but this night a few months back was an exception. The text was sent that evening at 10:30 but I didn’t even bother looking at my phone to notice it until around 1:30 a.m. I had just returned from a night of partying–at least my humble version of it–with friends in downtown Minneapolis. Fresh out of the shower, I was still tipsy and feeling good from the night’s fun. To be honest, I felt better than good: I was on cloud 9!

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This late night on the town was impromptu and it made me feel like a part of myself that I had lost (or at least put on the back-burner) was beginning to resurface. This was the part of me who was footloose and fancy-free: always open to the spontaneous dopeness that only happens when I just let myself go with the flow. I remember feeling my cheeks turn upward into a smile. I was the kind of happy that started on the inside and seeped its way right on outside of me. I loved feeling that way and for whatever reason, it had been awhile.

I plugged my phone into the charger and settled into my usual position in the bed. The flashing light on my phone reminded me of the unread text message. Still smiling, I picked up my phone and by the fourth line of the text, I could feel my face getting warm enough to slowly melt away my smile:

 

Been having this thought for a while…You are amazing yet you’re nomadic…The sooner you realize your foundation to create roots (right job, place to live, lifestyle, etc), the [better].

 

Wait…what?!? This message was from a very close friend of mine. I had known this friend since I was a young girl. They’d been around to witness many of my challenges and had helped me celebrate some of my most recent victories. This friend always seemed to understand and respect me, so I felt betrayed: blindsided by a mixture of weird emotions and awkward, out-of-character-for-me f*ck you’s.

I read the text again. Had I misread or misinterpreted any of the words? I had not.

I read it once more. Was I reading into it and inserting a judgmental tone that was unwarranted?  Nope. I wasn’t.

I allowed my emotions to swell to the surface and got my thumbs in position to type a reply fitting of the sucker punch this friend had just landed. But before I could get going,  I paused. Thoughts of a song distracted me and I jumped out of reply mode in order to search for a text that another good friend had sent me year and a half earlier.

This text came with a link to a YouTube video with the words,  “Hey sweetie! I love this song and it makes me think of you every time I hear it!”

The lyrics began flooding my brain, as if to drown the insecurity and self-doubt that had started to surface. I clicked on the link to listen.

I like digging holes and hiding things inside them
When I’ll grow old, I hope I won’t forget to find them
‘Cause I’ve got memories and travel like gypsies in the night.

I build a home and wait for someone to tear it down
Then pack it up in boxes, head for the next town runnin’
‘Cause I’ve got memories and travel like gypsies in the night.

And a thousand times I’ve seen this road

A thousand times…

I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground

I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I’ve got no roots uh uh uh uh
I’ve got no roots uh uh uh uh

“No Roots” by Alice Merton puts words to a feeling I’ve had most of my adult life. This feeling of not being planted or held to any one position, place or space has been my default.

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One of my favorite trees in Honolulu, Hawaii. It seems to be in protest of its own roots! I can relate. 

Having moved 33 times in my life (no typo here–I’ve counted), it works to my advantage to be free to “pack it up in boxes” when the spirit or opportunity moves me. In fact, I most comfortable and free to be my true self when I am untethered. Much like the song, each place I land, (however temporary) comes with experiences and memories that I hold near and dear and sometimes take with me to the next space.

For most of my adult life, I have been made to feel like there was something wrong with me for being a person who never lets the grass grow beneath my feet. Jade Aliana (one of my former students) writes a touching piece for her blog Broad Abroad: A Mom and Her Mini Abroad, in which she declares that her mantra for 2020 is “Stillness is overrated.” I agree with Jade wholeheartedly and highly recommend her insightful blog, which underscores the value of being on the move.

My need for nomadic freedom has led others to either criticize me for lacking stability or applaud me for having the faith and courage to go wherever the wind blows me. Over time, I have become more confident in my decision-making, so I am better able to mute those who view my unwillingness to “stay put” as flawed. I choose to turn up the volume on to those, like the friend who sent me the song, who support me with words of encouragement or admiration.

This friend later explained:

The strength of the song [reminds me of you]. She is clear about who she is and no fucking apologies…a gypsy who doesn’t stay still and honors it!

When I first received that judgy text, my gut reaction was to be hurt and to strike back. Yet something inside of me knew better. I would not let them convince me that my resilience was a valid reason for their resentment.

I’m thankful that I had someone else (my dear friend) and something different (lyrics to a song) to counter the negativity from that early morning text. I read it another three times before I finally replied with a link to “No Roots” and this:

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Translation: F*ck  you.

I never did receive a reply.

Condition of the Hair (Part 1)

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This is Part 1 of an ongoing series, “Condition of the Hair,” where I will process and document my journey back to natural hair health and beauty.

As a Black woman, my lived experiences are viewed through that lens. So the stories shared in this series may sound familiar to a select number of you. Please trust that in confessing my own dysfunction surrounding my hair, it is not my intent to criticize or critique any other woman or her personal choices with regard to hair health and beauty. As an individual, I would never attempt to serve as the spokesperson for an entire group of strong, dynamic and empowered women. I am, however, fully aware that my experiences serve as a single representation of a much larger and important narrative.

I am choosing to post my thoughts in my blog because I am a writer and sharing is an essential part of my growth and healing. If you are tempted to take this personally, please don’t. While some of what I share may sound familiar to you, this post is not necessarily about you. Unless it is, in which case, don’t get mad: Get a shovel and dig in!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO BEFORE YOU READ THE REST!

I made this video just over 2 weeks ago but I’ve been contemplating the dysfunctional relationship I’ve had with my hair for well over 2 years now. My most recent hair issue started in early 2017. After yet another incident left me with no other logical choice but to cut my hair, I wore my teenie-weenie Afro with an interesting mixture of pride and annoyance. I was proud because I had finally made the decision to do what was healthy for my hair. Still, I felt annoyed because, once again, that decision was thrust upon me by a series of bad choices.

Since 1996, the year of my first big chop , I have gone back and forth between maintaining my thick, natural crown to relying heavily upon chemicals or processes that have not been conducive to the health of my hair. So needless to say, 2017 was not the first time (or 2nd or 3rd) that I had been in this situation.

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To be honest, I am most comfortable with my kinky, curly hair. Yet, somehow, I manage to find myself in this cycle dysfunction with it: far more concerned with how easy it is to manage and how it looks than with how healthy it actually is.

Since my first big chop nearly 20 years ago, the pattern with my hair goes a little something like this:

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2008-Full out Fro! Hair so thick and healthy!

My hair is healthy. I get bored with wearing the same predictable styles and there are no more wigs that suit me or satisfy my desire to look different. I’ve recently moved to a new city or state (yeah, that happens every few years) so sadly, I am not blessed enough to have a stylist who is comfortable or knowledgeable enough to style my natural hair. To mix things up a bit, I turn to my beautician of the season and say, “Hey. I need you to do something that will bring my hair back to life!”

Somehow, the memory of what happened the last time I “got bored” with my hair is buried deep within my subconscious. I only recall it at the very moment that I see a tennis-ball-sized clump of hair in my comb. Then suddenly, I get all sanctified.

Dear sweet baby Jesus, if you just let me survive this color/itchy sew-in/braids so tight that I can feel my brains oozing out of my ears… I promise to…

But I never do. I turn around months later and… Well, you know. Same situation. Same prayer. Same cycle.

So, it’s 2018 and here I am: 45 years old and trying to get my natural hair game strong again. To be honest, I’m ashamed. This feeling has everything to do with the fact that after so many years, I still haven’t figured out a consistent, healthy hair regimen that won’t inevitably leave me reaching for the clippers.

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Big Chop #5-2017: This was the fix for a color treatment gone horribly wrong!

The problem as I see it…
The way I see it, I have gotten into the dangerous habit of loving myself from the outside-in and not from the inside out. I have become fixated with waking up “photo-ready,” so to speak. I have been spending more time and money allowing others to perform services on me that I used to feel comfortable managing on my own. Lacking this crucial aspect of self-care leaves a void that affects me in a real, profound way.
My recent dependency on hair weave is less about me not loving my natural hair and more about me loving the ability to wake up and go without effort. As a result, I have found myself relying on folks who may be licensed to “do hair” but lack the training, time or desire to actually care for my hair in its natural state. The consequence of that has been undesired hair loss, shallow edges and a severe loss of perspective. (For the record, I can list 3 stylists who were indeed exceptions to this rule. I will share more about them in Part 2).
I’m in a space where I want to regain a more balanced, healthy perspective about my natural hair. So, I am asking myself some tough questions. These questions may not lead to definitive answers (or answers that I like) but they will likely serve as the foundation for growth.
The questions…

  • What changes have occurred within me that have led to my dependency on hair extensions and weave?
  • What is it about wearing my Afro or rockin’ my twist-out that no longer satisfies me when it used to serve as a source of personal and cultural pride?
  • Why, suddenly, do I no longer choose to spend the time or put forth the effort to care for my own hair?
  • What hair care products, styles and treatments are unhealthy for my natural hair and which ones are healthy?

The work…
I am going to spend some time getting reacquainted with my natural hair. The best way for me to do this is to make and take time to care for my own hair. This means that I must be first in line when it comes to washing, oiling, deep conditioning and stimulating my scalp. It means that from this point forward, until I determine otherwise, I will rock my natural hair more than I do a crochet, sew-in or wig.
This means that I will be my own voice of reason, reminding myself that my hair should not be just full of extensions, but a full extension of me! Much like me, in order for my hair to be healthy, it must be allowed to breathe!

Maybe This Time… Attempt vs Accuracy.

December 26th through January 8th: Hands down my favorite time of year!

These two weeks are filled with mad introspection, hope and just an overall clean slate-ness that I can rarely convince myself exists at any other point in the year. Without a doubt, these fourteen days ALWAYS leave me feeling like I can conquer the universe and all that I am meant to do in it! By day fifteen, I usually begin to feel a settling in of reality that doesn’t necessarily make me feel hopeless but…LESS hope-filled.

I’m not alone. So many of us are familiar with this phenomenon that leads to broken resolutions and an overall sense of having failed oneself and/or others. It’s the stuff that reflection is made of and typically the reason we look forward to the holiday season and the start of a new year. We all yearn for that fresh start because we convince ourselves that, given another go at it, we will actually get ‘it’ right!

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It’s as if I go on resolution vacay each year after my birthday. My birthday is January 8th! Just sad.

It’s 2020 and with all but my pinky toe firmly planted into the door of my 47th year, I’ve come to the realization that I probably WON’T! I’ll mess up, reset, flush shit down the drain and start again… more times than I’d ever care to admit! Because my truth is this: There’s probably no such thing as getting it right—at least not in the sense that I have been thinking all these years.

My mother used to say, “Nothing beats a failure but a darned good try.” Suddenly, (40+ years later), this resonates with me. The thing is this: I am starting to realize that in this cycle called LIFE, the ATTEMPTS matter more than the ACCURACY! Because life is tricky. Targets move and what feels “right” at one stage in life can feel downright wrong at another. So, maybe it’s better for me to focus on the trying rather than beating myself up because I haven’t figured out how to get it “right.”

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Maybe the attempt matters more than accuracy?

I want need 2020 to be different because there’s so much more to experience and offer the world. To maximize my benefit and contribution, I used to think the solution was to figure out a way to capture that hope and seal it in an air-tight container, uncorking it at various periods throughout the year as needed. Now I think I understand that the best way to resuscitate my resolve is to simply keep trying: Up my quotient of attempts!

If I tried to spell out what this means in its entirety right now, I’d probably get it wrong. But I know this: If 2020 is going to feel different than any other year I’ve lived to date, I must live each moment in a way that looks and feels different for me. I’d venture to guess that I’d be wise to:

  • Practice gratitude: Feel and express thankfulness for all things big, medium and small. In order to practice gratitude, one must be present enough in the moment to notice the opportunity to be grateful.
  • Do the work EVERY day: Commit to action! Everything I wish to experience or accomplish requires effort. Placing a little effort each day will go a long way.
  • Honor the role of grace without inviting excuses: Remember that you are an imperfect/flawed individual. There will be setbacks and moments when you lack the drive or energy to give it your all. This is to be expected and there’s power in cutting yourself some slack. But…avoid wallowing in complacency.

It’s January 1, 2020 and I’m gluttonously, ridiculously stuffed with hope and possibility! I’ll cling to this for the next week while I work on my strategy for the remaining 360 days. While I no longer believe in getting it “right,” maybe just plain getting it done is what it’ll take to push me to my next level.

Condition of The Hair (Part 2)

In Condition of the Hair (Part 1), I called myself out and reluctantly owned up to having an unhealthy dependence on weave and extensions. I started to reflect on how I got to this place and fully acknowledged that it was time for me to get reacquainted with my own hair.

Since then, as my grandmother would say, the devil has been plenty busy messing with my resolve. When I got caught off guard by a forgotten appointment a couple of weeks ago, my temptation to backslide was more automatic than intentional. Here’s what happened!

By the time I recorded that video, the immediate panic had passed. What I didn’t  capture, though, was the 423 scenarios my mind had already conjured up. All of this within just moments before coming to what seemed to be a level-headed and focused conclusion: Just cancel the damn appointment!

The rapid fire of questions , included: (Read these fast for maximum effect to highlight the cray-cray!)…

What upcoming events do I have? Do I have enough natural hair care products (which I affectionately call my juice and berries) to carry me until my next appointment (which I haven’t scheduled yet)? If not, when and where would I be able to go to purchase them? o-LIFE-QUESTIONS-facebook

Will I feel comfortable being natural over the next couple of weeks or will I feel more at-ease with my hair in a lengthy, more manicured style? In the 2 weeks ahead, will I find myself in rooms filled with people who might be intimidated by, curious about or judgmental of my natural hair? Or, will the next 2 weeks have me surrounded by people who might see my hair and feel empowered by my choice to be natural?

Trust me when I say I am not proud to share these thoughts with you,  but I promised to remain vulnerable throughout this process. It’s embarrassing to admit that I get so in my head about something so basic as my hair. I am not usually the kind of person who lets the opinions of others control me but make no mistake, the consideration is always there!  Sometimes, solely for the sake of managing how I will deal with impending criticism, critique or positive attention (desired or undesired).

I knew the right thing to do was to stay grounded in my quest to reclaim my status as a natural beauty. With this in mind, I decided to call the beauty shop in order to book a future appointment for a quick, cute natural style. When I called… well, listen for yourself!

Sidebar moment: Now, before I get into what was important about the outcome of this call, let me just say this: I abhor the subpar customer service in many “Beauty Shops.”  I refer to it as a culture because it is something that many black women grow to accept as a small price to pay for beauty. I’m blessed to have encountered “Jessies,” “Marlas” and “Pats” of the beautician world who have taught me that there’s a distinction between one who has been trained to ‘do hair’ and one who is a ‘stylist!’ Part of that distinction lies in the attention they give to customer service and the pride they take in being on time, educated and responsible in their craft. But, I digress. Anyway…

This just goes to show you: When the devil is busy being busy, God is busy being GOD:  lining up the entire Universe to make everything fall into place.  This unexpected frustration of calling the beauty shop catapulted me toward a deeper understanding of one of the questions I asked myself in part 1:

Why, suddenly, do I no longer choose to spend the time or put forth the effort to care for my own hair?

  1. Maintaining natural hair can be more than just a notion: Choosing to spend time and effort caring for my natural hair means I am choosing to spend less time doing other things I enjoy.  Searching for the right concoction of products that leave the hair soft without being greasy or full of residue that shows up on your pillowcase in the morning can sometimes feel like a science experiment. Mixing certain products together may cause them to coagulate, which can leave an awful mess of curdled product beads in your hair. To complicate things even further, as we age, our hair changes and the products that used to be just right are no longer on the market or no longer work the way they used to.
  2. Making my hair presentable for others is a hassle and requires a great deal of effort and assistance outside of my own ability: Early on, in my life, I was taught to believe that nappy hair was a problem desperately in need of a solution. I often felt ashamed of my hair in its natural state. The day my mother brought home the orange and white box of Kiddie Kit hair relaxer was the day my hair got saved. Saved from hours of pulling, yanking, being cussed and fussed at and ultimately, saved from the shame of having thick, course, nappy hair. Not only was my natural hair a problem for me, it was clearly a problem that other people in my life were forced to deal with.
  3. Knowing how to care for and style natural hair is a talent. It is a gift which, if not nurtured as a child, takes time and patience to develop as an adult: In the last video, I said that I should explore how growing up, I never had to care for my own hair. The truth is, this exploration is far more basic than it is deep.

As the youngest (yes, the baby of the family), my big sister would often bear the brunt of the responsibility of combing my hair. While she wasn’t always nice about it, many days, she sort of enjoyed it. Sometimes, she’d see pictures of pretty little black girls in the Jet or Ebony magazine and ask me, “You want me to comb your hair like this?” Whenever that happened, I could tell our Sunday evening beauty shop routine would be far more enjoyable than painful. I always walked away from that time with my sister feeling a sense of pride and importance. 

Here it is: When it comes to taking care of my natural hair, I lack both the know-how and confidence. I rely on other people to make my hair beautiful because this is what I was taught as a child. In turn, I have placed a high emotional value on letting other people take care of my hair. 

AFRO SERIES XXI by Adebanji Alade
Beautiful sketch series by Adebanji Alade. http://adebanjialade.blogspot.com

So yes, it is going to take time to unlearn some of the lessons about my hair that I have internalized from childhood. Furthermore, it is going to require an abundance of patience to build my confidence too. Frankly, this is an area that just doesn’t come naturally for me. 

Remember when I said I wasn’t writing this series to be the voice of anyone but myself? Well, right about now,  I could surely use yours! A quick little You got this or Yes, girl…I feel you! would not necessarily get you blocked! In fact, it might just be the encouragement I need to remind myself…

My hair should not be just full of extensions, but a full extension of me!

  

 

My Messy Truth (On Being Bored)

I have always been proud to say that I hail from the last generation of kids who were given the order to “go outside and play!” Even when my family lived on the south side of Chicago (in the hood) where busy street traffic and neighborhood thugs made it dangerous to wander, the lack of safe surroundings never prevented my mother from ordering us outside.

Through her bedroom window, my siblings and I had access to what seemed to be a stadium-sized tar rooftop. Our rooftop was just as “backyard” to us as any fenced-in area with green grass and a rusted out swing set. And the level of filth we managed to achieve from a few hours of play on that tar rooftop would rival any full-day at a park or camp in any nearby suburb.

 

As a child, I was full of energy and wonder. The idea of sitting indoors all day was synonymous with torture: cruel and unusual punishment. From double-dutch and Chinese jump rope to hop-scotch, cops and robbers and hide and seek, there was ALWAYS something to do.

 

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As I got older, catching lightning bugs (technically called fireflies), playing Ding-Dong Ditch (which as it turns out, was a petty misdemeanor), Ghosts in the Graveyard and other organized sports, like kickball and baseball, became more popular ways to pass the time.

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Rarely was the weather an excuse to stay inside or to declare myself officially bored. If it was rainy or too frigid outside, playing school, reading books or building forts with sheets and blankets were creative options for staying out of the way. To be honest, that fort thing never went over too well for me. With no washer and dryer in our house, we had to drag all of our dirty clothes to the laundromat. So playing with (translation: dirtying up) perfectly clean linen was not necessarily encouraged.

 

Here’s the bottom line: I was not allowed to think, feel or say that I was bored! In fact, I exercised the utmost care to never utter the words, “I’m bored” within earshot of my mother or grandmother.  If I went even a decibel above a whisper, their response to my boredom would evoke sheer panic and horror–in everyone!

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“Did I just hear you say you bored?!? You bored?!? Ok, well, go clean up that room/fold those clothes/go to the store/mop the floor/dust the end tables/read a book!”

And the worst suggestion of all to cure my boredom?

“Take a nap!”

Nooooooooo!!!!!!!

Worse than being bored and unable to go outside was being forced (and sometimes threatened) into REM sleep while your mind and body wanted nothing more but to run and skip and hop and jump and flip and flop and …well, you get the point.

Watching television cured my boredom on those ‘stay-inside’ kind of days. Hands down-PBS was the best! From Sesame Street, Romper Room and Zoom to The Electric Company and 321 Contact, my mind was always encouraged to explore new thoughts and actually interact with the television. I didn’t just sit there and watch. I moved, shook and solved problems right along with the incredibly diverse casts,

 

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Remember these classics?!? Click on the links below for a YouTube trip down memory lane!

To be honest, Sesame Street taught me how to memorize things, Romper Room had me convinced that the television was a two-way mirror, Zoom piqued my curiosity about the annoying resilience of cats, and alliteration had a fantastically, fun flavor whenever Electric Company was on. I will never forget how  321 Contact ( with lessons from The Bloodhound Gang) urged me to experiment and discover that writing “invisible”messages on construction paper required the use of real lemons and not the lemon juice that we used to make lemonade or Kool-Aid with a little extra twang!

So, why the trip down memory lane? Well, outside of the fact that I truly enjoy reminiscing on a time that was full of simplicity and joy,  I need to call myself out on something that is difficult to admit, but necessary:

As an adult, I have become…(here it goes)…LAZY! Or, if I’m trying to be polite , I might use the word COMPLACENT.

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I’d probably adapt this anonymous quote a bit by adding “There are people with no legs out here training for marathons!” It’s true.

Just a few days ago, I uttered those dreaded two words: I’m bored! And would you believe that for a moment, I actually had the nerve to look around as if to expect someone to shout out options of things for me to do? Really, Tyra?!?

Now that I am adult, hell, let’s be honest- almost middle-aged- and have the power to do pretty much whatever I choose in my free time, it is rare that I even opt to go outside. When I do, what happens barely resembles “playing.”

As a woman who used to be proud to call herself an avid reader, I am well-aware that I should pick up a book and read far more than I do. Yet, there are two books on my Kindle Fire and another two on my nightstand that have yet to see me turn past page 20. What’s the excuse? I can’t say that I haven’t had time to read because I have. What I can say is that for some reason, reading is no longer the default activity for me.

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When it comes to television, unfortunately, it is no longer PBS that keeps my attention. In fact, with the exception of the occasional documentary on Netflix, watching television has very little to do with being engaged or interactive!

I think I have been lying to myself. Telling myself that my subscriptions to NPR Podcasts equate to me being well-informed. I think my profiles on social networking sites have been a front that give me the appearance of actually interacting and socializing with the world at-large. Not true. Instead, these things have filled me with a false sense of intellectual and social stimulation.

So, here’s the thing: If I can admit that I am not yet living a fulfilled life and have not yet done what I should to contribute to the world, then what gives me the right to ever say that I am bored?

If I want lived experiences, entertainment or excitement in my life (and I do), then it is up to me to create, seek and discover ways to have them!

My messy truth is this: Being bored is a choice. And it is one that I have been choosing because I have lacked the motivation required to work toward my vision.

My messy truth forces me to admit that as an adult, saying I’m bored is not a statement that has the right to request a solution from anyone else. It is, however, an indictment of my own inability to understand, feed, follow and nurture my purpose.

I’ve got serious work to do but one thing is for certain: You won’t hear this girl saying I’m bored anytime in the near future!

 

 

The (lost) Art of Dignified Restraint

I was recently blindsided by an experience that probably should not have caught me off guard. It happened when someone, with whom I have never had a negative interaction (and mistakenly thought I was developing a decent rapport), was exposed as referencing me in a way that, at its best, could be defined as stereotypical. Worst–racist (Please read up on racial microaggressions). 

 

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Since this incident, I have been deeply contemplating the (lost) art of dignified restraint. 

Michele Obama spoke of this so eloquently during her 2016 DNC Speech when she shared the advice she gave her two daughters during the unprecedented ugliness of the presidential campaign. She told them,  “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

Quotes About Rising Above

 

I admit that I am suspicious about the prevalence of dignified restraint in our society, hence my reference to it as a “lost art”. For most people today, it can be a difficult, even unnecessary concept to grasp. Social media sites make it less desirable to exercise any restraint, let alone in a way that could be classified as noble. Everyone has unlimited access to a free, world-wide platform that makes us feel like what we think is of great importance. We can use these platforms to build up or tear down at-will. If I’m being totally honest with my readers and myself, I can also admit that my blog has the same capacity, though I try to suppress that by provoking meaningful discourse, critical thought and self-reflection. 

For some people, the ability to “go high when they go low,” comes quite naturally. You probably know at least one person who possesses this ability. More than likely, you have either admired them as (s)heroes or looked at them with eyes of wonder (what the fckness?!?). Perhaps, you have even accused this person of being a bit of a coward for not having the backbone to stand up to their offender(s).

Science tells us that in situations which evoke the strongest emotion and greatest stress, our response is based on our instinctive need to survive or overcome that stress: Fight or flight.

When I find myself in physical danger, that fight or flight response happens without a second thought. I am in danger, so I will either try to fight against that which threatens physical harm or I will escape the danger by any means necessary.

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When it comes to a threat that is emotional or psychological in nature, however, dignified restraint provides us with an alternative response that can also be highly conducive to our survival. See, to be composed and self-controlled in the way we respond to acts of cruelty or hatred is not synonymous with being apathetic or complacent.

It does not suggest that we condone the inappropriate behavior and no–it does NOT require that we remain silent about the act that is so clearly intended to harm or demean us. It does, however require that we take time to contemplate and assess, thus enabling us to remain true to our desired values and decorum.

Dignified restraint enables us to maintain control in a situation that is designed to force us to relinquish it. 

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My pen will always be mightier than any sword a person chooses to use against me. I am secure with who I am and will always choose to be dignified in my restraint against a person’s attempt to undermine me.  In this situation, I have decided that opening a dialogue with the person who sponsored the micro-insult against me would be highly unproductive. Insecurity breeds contempt and I have no time or desire to entertain that.

What is productive, however,  is to share my experience and open a dialogue with my readers. So, I’d like to hear from you, readers. How do you choose between fight, flight or dignified restraint when some aspect of your identity is under attack?