Saturday, April 11, 2015

This is 40. Part 2- Toya

Quote from one of the greatest philosophers of our time, Carrie Bradshaw
Part 2 of this post

Depending on what day you ask, my 40th year has been one of the following:

- one of the best years of my life
- the most confusing year of my life
- the year with the most growth and possibilities
- the most stagnant year that has felt like I've been walking around in a tunnel with no light or end in sight

And it's only April. 

The week I turned 40 I felt great. Soon after things changed.  For one thing, my metabolism has come to a standstill, a screeching halt.  I can't even look at a donut without gaining weight.  Last year I fell at work and had some x-rays on my foot to find out that not only did I re-fracture an old injury but I have plantar fasciitis and arthritis. ARTHRITIS. When I saw my name next to ARTHRITIS???? Yo.  I went home in complete silence. No music no nothing.  40 is here and taking no prisoners.

I haven't really made any friends yet here and being as though it's spring and the weather is getting so nice, that's been a little rough on me as of late. Not only did I have great friends back in Nashville but I had a great reputation and a pretty successful side hustle as a concert producer.  But I'm facing forward now to whoever it is I am supposed to be.  The thing that I have to fight off the most is feeling like I have somehow already peaked.  I know that's not the truth.  I didn't move back home to retire. I moved back to get healthy for what's next and what's next is great.  There is a plan.  But the challenge for me is to not just sit here and say "there is a plan".  That's like wanting to have a house, looking at the blueprint and there are no construction workers, no material, etc.  You've got to count the cost of what it takes to work that plan and I have a lot of work to do.

So 40 has basically been about me figuring some things out about myself, things that I need to really work on steadily; things that had they been brought to my attention last year, which was really about my recuperating, would have sent me into emotional quicksand. I've had to to do some soul searching as to what behavior has been holding me back from certain victories for so long.  I wrote this in my journal recently...

"Anything that I have allowed to hold me back in life is the enemy of my soul."

I have a few enemies but there's one in particular that I want to talk about and that's procrastination.

Procrastination is my nemesis.  It is the Newman to my Jerry, the Pam to my Martin, The Gooch to my Arnold Jackson.  It is the enemy. But for the longest time, I haven't treated it like an enemy. I've treated it like a companion, a friend even.  "Oh that's just procrastination. It's always been here, always going to be here.  It's been here for generations. It comes to all of the picnics."  It's prideful to just let procrastination take residence in your life like that. Now listen, I'm not talking about the "I'll fold the laundry later" and later turns into a week. I'm not talking about that.  I'm talking about continuously hitting the snooze button on life. It's prideful to think you have that much time. It's prideful to think that circumstances don't change. For me, procrastination is one of the biggest sins of my life and it's gotta go.

So this week I prayed about it. I prayed about how to conquer procrastination, insecurity and other things that I feel have been holding me back from consistently winning and this is what I got: in order to get rid of procrastination or any sin and mindset that holds you back, you've got to hate it. You can't be indifferent towards it. It's not enough to feel guilty about it. You have got to absolutely hate it. You have to hate it like getting stuck in rush hour traffic.  You've got to hate it like injustice.  You've got to hate it like when someone leaves just a swallow of orange juice in the container. You've got to absolutely hate it. It has to disgust you or you'll never change it. Because if you continuously allow it, you don't hate it enough. You may hate yourself for it, but you don't hate it enough. 

You've got to hate fear.
You've got to hate your inconsistency.
You've got to hate your insecurity that plagues you every time you look in the mirror.
You've got to hate whatever it is that continuously says that there will never be anything good for you again in life.

And if because of it you have hated yourself or have been angry at yourself instead of that thing then you need to make a trade.  It's amazing how we don't apply "hate the sin and not the sinner" to how we treat ourselves. Don't hate yourself for what holds you back.  Hate what is holding you back and then knock the hell out of it.

Any behavior, guilt or untruth that compromises the love that you have for yourself is unacceptable. There is some behavior that has been in my life that is just plain unacceptable. The problem is I was letting the behavior make me feel like I was unacceptable. You can't move forward that way. So if I had to pick one word to describe 40 it would be "forward" and when you move forward, old "frenemies" like procrastination can't come along for the ride.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#WCW - Yvette Nicole Brown - Tia

Y'all, I have been a fan of Yvette Nicole Brown for a LONG time. Community was my show. And yeah, I know everyone loves Jeff or Abed and Troy, but Shirley was it for me. Her quirky church-lady always made me giggle a little more than I probably should have. But it was only because having grown up in church I knew a "Shirley"…okay I knew quite a few "Shirleys"and if you were a church kid you probably did too.

I decided to make Ms. Brown my #WCW for two reasons. 1. She's become an inspiration to me. After being diagnosed with diabetes, YNB decided that she needed to take control of her health and start leading a healthier lifestyle. And as you can see, she DID THAT. She looks AMAZING!!! (Not that she wasn't gorgeous before…I mean, let's be real…her smile was always stunning.) Not only has she lost weight but she's gained her health. And as she's said in interviews, she gets to keep her feet.

"When they tell you they're going to take your feet, you stop eating donuts." 
"When it's for vanity, it might be hard because there are reasons to stop, but when it's for health, you kind of go, 'I want to keep my feet!'"
I have gained almost 15lbs since my mom died. I have cried and eaten all of the things. And I did this knowing that one of the contributing factors to my mom's poor health was her weight. She was never huge but she was overweight for most of my life. During a recent physical, my doctor was very clear: I have to stop eating all of the things and I have to get back down to a healthier weight. I'm no spring chicken. I can actually SEE 40! (That is a post for another time and will involve booze…lots of booze.)  But after Insta-stalking YNB's Instagram page, I realized that it can be done. I just have to choose to do it. I want my knees to stop hurting. I would like smaller boobs because carrying these heavy suckers around is not the business. (Plus…boob sweat.) And I'm not diabetic and I'd like to keep it that way because I too want to keep my feet. 
But the 2nd thing that solidified Ms. Please Don't Hurt 'Em Brown as my WCW was seeing her on Talking Dead. She came to the WITH NOTES. NOTES!!! That is my kind of woman. There have been many a guest on Talking Dead who were CLEARLY in over their heads and probably couldn't tell the difference between Michonne and Sasha. But that is not YNB's testimony. She is not a casual watcher. She is a FAN! She has theories. (The one about the W being an M kind of shifted my paradigm a little. And if you don't watch The Walking Dead and Talking Dead you have no idea what I'm talking about right now. And I'm not sorry. Get on board, people.)
Honestly, there aren't too many people that I'd want in my corner should the zombie apocalypse descend upon us. But if the ZA does occur, the woman with notes and both of her feet can roll with me any day! So kudos to you, Yvette Nicole Brown. You're winning WCW in my book. And BTW, if I ever meet you in real life, I'm probably going to fan-girl real bad. Sorry in advance. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is 40. Part 1- Toya

Hello there. 

Well it's been quite a while since Tia and I both wrote anything.  I'll let her explain her reasons.  Mine have been that I think about writing and then get overwhelmed by all of the things that I want to talk about.  Also, the more you procrastinate, the more you mull stuff over and over in your head so by the time you want to write, you are too tired to even think about what's been going on anymore. Maybe that's just me.  So what I am going to try to do is break down how turning 40 has been awesome and absolutely anxiety inducing all at the same time. But before I talk about turning 40, let's talk about my last final months of my 30's.

I was ready to be 40 because I was about as over being 39 as I was with 2014.

I had decided when I turned 39 that 39 was just a courtesy age.   You're really just sitting around waiting to be 40.  Because my birthday is right after Christmas, I only have a few days before I can say "I will be...this year."  I was really only 39 for 5 days!  When the ball dropped on New Year's Eve and I was working coat check (THANK GOD for those tips because moving expenses are so real), I just paced the floor back and forth trying to hold it together. 40 was happening. 

A drunken stranger also tried to give me a sympathy kiss because I had no one to kiss at midnight.  That could have very well been an indication of how this year was gonna go.  

Fast forward many months after moving back home in early February...

Moving back home was 100% the right decision.  I didn't really do a lot once I moved back. I've been here for a little over a year and there are people I grew up with that I have yet to see that still live here.  I hibernated a bit.  I just wanted to figure myself out.  I got a new job (that is somewhat of a long story and since I want to keep my job, I may not want to talk about it right now because people really are on these internet streets), started looking for churches and tried steadily to get Nashville out of my system.  It took me about a year to delete all of my Nashville business and event listings from my email and social media.  Formerly the Nashville busy body and know it all, I had to finally start minding my own business. I really struggled to not constantly be on social media to see what everyone else was doing.  The last email newsletter I unsubscribed from sent me this confirmation message:

You have been removed from Nashville.

I laid on the bed, put Taylor Swift's "Clean" on repeat until I fell asleep and stayed off of social media for a few weeks until D'Angelo came back. 

Side note: Can we just talk about how in 2014 Anberlin broke up and D'Angelo came back?  I wasn't ready for either of these things. Does "Thanks Obama" apply to either one of these situations? I'm not sure yet. 

Tia's Mom's Memorial Service

Here we are with Stephen Christian at Anberlin's last show ever in Atlanta, the day before Tia's mom's memorial service. 

Yes I really did put my head on his chest. Stephen is the homie. Long live Anberlin!

I gathered a small group of friends who mostly live in Nashville to meet us in Atlanta where I organized Tia's mother's memorial service for Tia, her brother, and a few members of her family.  It was during this entire weekend that it really hit me how terribly difficult it is to be an adult.  There are things happening all around us that we did not sign up for.  Life is so unpredictable.  Tia and I are constantly asking each other, have things always been this hard in life or are things harder for us and our generation?  I don't know the answer to that. Sometimes I think we have it harder and then I remember my parents grew up in the south during the 60's so the jury is still out on that. 

It was walking with Tia through this process of her mother's transition all the way up until the service that I realized that everything will be alright but it's definitely not going to be okay.  Does that even make sense?  Like, you can deal with something.  You can accept it. You can function and find joy again.  It doesn't mean it's okay.  This will never be okay.  I realized that when I stood up to give my words at the memorial service.  I had done everything I knew to do to make this situation okay.  I had ordered Mexican food because Tia loves Mexican food. I went to Kinko's and printed the programs.  The decorations represented things that her mom loved.  I found the perfect mix of Sunday brunch Smooth Jazz hymns to play so that the mood wasn't too somber but it wasn't exactly "turnt up" either.  In my notes, I even wrote in a little humorous tale about her mother that I managed to work in to lighten up the room.  But as I went into this humorous tale and saw my very best friend cry and grieve the loss of her mother, the very first person you ever love, I realized I could not make this okay.  I've always taken pride in the fact that when it comes to Tia, being her best friend is one thing I've gotten right in life.  Even at her lowest moments I can get a laugh. I can peer open the dark clouds a little bit and point her towards the light.  But there was no doing that that day because that's not what she needed at all. 

It had been raining all day, harder than I think I have ever seen.  That morning I walked outside in the pouring rain and said "Hey! In the name of Jesus you will stop raining! We don't need this today!"  But then one of our friends said that maybe it needed to rain.  Maybe God was crying with Tia's family. So as I stood up in front of everyone at the service and all of this became real, so very real, I almost ran off to the bathroom to throw up but I didn't.  I just went into auto-pilot, finished out the service and tried my best to firmly but politely get everyone out of the space we rented on time.  To this day, Tia and I have never discussed that day. We don't need to.  We're good. 

This was in November.  With all of that, moving back home with my parents, and starting a new job that at times I feel completely under-qualified for, I was ready for a fresh start. I was most definitely ready for 40.  

Part 2 coming for real. It will be soon. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I wasn't ready - Tia

My beautiful, strong, courageous mother passed away two weeks ago. She was diagnosed with cancer at the end of August and two months later she was gone. My brother and I were not prepared in the least. We all thought we'd have more time.

Death is a cruel and complicated thing. We all know that we're going to die. But we are never fully prepared for it. We had no idea that my mother would go so quickly. And once she went home to be with the Lord, the grieving process was swift and crippling. There are no words that can comfort you. There is nothing that you can do to stop the pain. You must simply accept it, give in to it, and do the very best that you can to navigate it. It is the absolute worst.

My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship at times. I know that she loved me dearly and I her. But I don't know that she ever fully understood her stoic, nerdy, overanalyzing, strangely emotional child. And I certainly didn't fully understand some of the decisions she made and the things that she did. I'm more like my father in a lot of ways and I think that's why she and I often bumped heads. But she was also the person who understood my tears. She knew that I could be a person who resided squarely in my feelings for long periods of time and she was often very adept at navigating those feelings.

My mom taught me to cook (when I would stay put long enough to pay attention.) I get my love of baking from her. I get my looks and my curves from her. She taught me how to take care of my skin. She loved me when I was rotten, when I was selfish, when I wasn't at my best. For all of her faults, for all of the times I was FURIOUS with her, for every moment I just didn't understand how her mind worked, I ALWAYS ALWAYS KNEW that she loved me.

The last birthday card she sent me had a note in it that said, "You are the best thing that ever happened to me." It was a Disney princess card. She told me that my middle name means princess and she always called me her "beautiful princess."

So as I struggle through the gut wrenching sadness that comes with losing a loved one and try to process the crisis of faith I'm having with not understanding why my mother got cancer and why our prayers for healing from God were not answered, I find comfort in knowing that I was unconditionally loved by a beautiful, statuesque, God fearing mother. I am glad that she is no longer suffering. I miss her dearly, but that's to be expected.

Just before my mom passed, Toya's dad told me, "Your parents are the first people you ever love." So if you are the praying type, please pray for my brother and me. We lost our first love.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And Now for Something That Doesn't Suck: Taylor Swift's 1989

Oh wait. That's not the album cover.  That's me playing around on Taylor's website

Here it is...

It's been a long time since I've been really excited about an album.  I totally needed this.  When I heard that Taylor Swift was writing a new album that was to be reminiscent of my favorite era, I can't front.   I was intrigued.  Her lyrics sung over some music that reminds me of Judd Nelson in flannel, feathered hair and a trenchcoat ? Oh I'm here for it (side note: Why did the internet try to kill him the other day? I can't stand people sometimes).  Anything that reminds me of a John Hughes movie is pretty much gonna get a yes from me and this record gets all of the yesses.

Here are five of my favorites (besides "Shake It Off" AKA "Mickey 2014" which I vote to be our new National Anthem) off of the deluxe version of the album found only at Target:

1. "Welcome to New York"- "Welcome to New York" reminds me of how I probably would have felt about NYC had I been a young adult in 1989.  It's bitter sweet because since I have moved back to the east coast and have visited NYC, I have been so sad of how much it's changed! God, what have they done to The Village?! *Sigh*  Still, this song reminds me of the big dreams I used to have of living there when I was a kid in, well, 1989.

2."Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style" !!!

3. "Out of the Woods"- I was afraid I'd be tired of this song because the chorus is so repetitious but daggonit if I haven't caught myself singing it at work, church, Wawa... I can't help it. It's so so good!

4. "This Love"- Is it just me or is this record giving us Amy Grant's House of Love vibes? I'm just saying! If you think about the time that record came out along with the fact that a lot of people weren't happy about the fact she moved from CCM to Pop, the parallels are pretty interesting.  This is giving me House of Love for sure. I love this record.

And now for the song that I feel personally emotionally victimized by...

5. "You R In Love"

This song.
My stomach.
Knots. KNOTS I SAY!!!!

I don't care how you feel about Taylor Swift. If you feel ANY way about love, get thee to this song! The only gripe I have with this album is that this song is not included on the iTunes version.  That is a sin and a shame.  It's easily the best song of the project and the entire record is pretty solid. I had to make myself not listen to it anymore. Every last one of the feels. Every last one!

What do you all think about the album and what are your faves?