Forgiveness

I hold a mean grudge. I’m talking Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister, I-will-hunt-you-to-the-ends-of-the-Earth-in-my-mind grudges. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Scorpio – we’re known to be especially emotional and passionate – or maybe it’s due to genetics. Whatever the cause, my blood-lust disposition has taken away more than enough nights of rest and ruined plenty of good days. I recently realized that I could remember the faces and names of just about every person who ever made me cry, or convinced me that I was worthless, yet I struggle to hold onto the memories of the folks who have gone out of their way to build me up. That’s why today I want to talk about…..

Forgiveness.

We’re not going to talk about your grandma’s brand of letting bygones be bygones, or turning the other cheek, or forgiving without really ever forgetting. That’s not how I roll, and if you vibe with me I’m guessing that’s not really in your genetic code either. Instead, I want to talk about a mindset I’m still struggling with accepting and applying for myself, but one that is nonetheless imperative for forward movement. Perhaps you obsess over the times you’ve been wronged, especially if the person who hurt you hasn’t apologized.  Maybe you can’t stop replaying a fight that has been addressed and resolved. Whatever the ailment, I’ve realized it all stems from our inability to do something that feels so strange: You and I can’t forgive ourselves.

We can’t forgive ourselves for not doing what we didn’t know to do. We can’t get over how much the pain affected us, how long we’ve carried it. We can’t forgive ourselves for the times we were the bad guys. You and I simply cannot look in the mirror and release the rage, because somewhere along the line we were told that good people aren’t allowed to put their feelings first. Yet, how can anything be let go if we can’t afford ourselves some grace? Here’s what I’m thinking we have to do to conquer this:

The only person I *have* to forgive is myself.

Simply writing that out felt weird. Did reading it feel odd? Beginning when I was a child, there was this constant message being pushed that I would have to forgive other people so that I could be happy.

“Forgiveness is for you, not them,” my parents would advise.

It never really sat right with me then, and after walking the planet for more than enough time to form an opinion I can confidently say that it still doesn’t sit right. What if they didn’t care? What if they said sorry, but kept on hurting me?

Somewhere between “screw them” and “all is forgiven” I’m landing on the notion that you don’t have to forgive anyone who doesn’t care about you. I no longer keep people in my life who derive joy from my sadness. I don’t have as many friends as I used to, but my days are much brighter. When an apology comes my way after a fight, I take it.  Then, I know that I have to remember the apology and be thankful for their humility. If it keeps happening, then I bounce. Still, I forgive myself, because there’s nothing wrong with trusting someone you care for.

However, if there isn’t going to be an apology or closure I have to accept it, because people who hurt you for their own pleasure want you to feel rage. They want that rage to be turned on yourself. Hating yourself keeps them in power. I believe loving yourself – forgiving yourself – is the best revenge when justice wont be served.

So often I get on myself for not saying this, or not doing that in a moment of frenzy, but I’m operating under the luxury of hindsight. The fact is I couldn’t know the future then, and I can’t time travel now, so all I have left to do is say LaKase, it’s cool. By doing that, by thinking about the event and seeing that I couldn’t have stopped it nor change it now, I’m giving myself permission to be a human.

You still deserve forgiveness, even if you were in the wrong

Come on, we’ve all been real assholes at some point. I’m the eldest child, so my temperament leans toward antagonistic every once in a while, but now I work harder at keeping my ‘tude in check. Most of my nights spent awake are dedicated to the times I was the bad guy, because I wasn’t strong enough to be kind. Thanks to therapy and good people in my life, I now know that I still deserve to forgive myself even when I was a jerk. So much of my rage is tied to being a survivor, fear, and doubt, so now I work to curb those instincts with self-care. The biggest step I had to take was accepting that my pain does not give me the right to hurt others. Not ever. I’ve apologized where I could without making it about myself, because the apology should never be about you. Where apologies were too late or ignored, I have to move on. So, if you need to apologize, then go do it. Just know that it’s their right to choose whether or not to receive it.

 

ghost hug GIF

While laying awake, as I often do,  thinking about the past and the present, and the mythical future, I realized I would never really be *good* until I could look at myself as I am now, instead of seeing all the ways I failed back then.The best way I can make amends for my imperfect past is to love myself so much that I’ll be brave enough to show love to other people. I hope reading this today will inspire you to forgive that person you were, no matter what, so that you can continue to grow. I think we can make it right today.

 

 

My Favorite Movies For Mother’s Day

Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me, or that I’m looking forward to experiencing. Please share your suggestions below!

 

Let’s just clear this up: no one has a cooler Mom than I do. Charlotte (Mrs. Perry if you’re nasty) was born to improve lives and laugh, which is what she’s been doing since 1964. She’s so cool that she doesn’t even care if you all know she was born in 1964, because, to her, getting older is a gift. My mother is a rare gem and I am so happy to get the chance to gush over her before her birthday. We have traveled together, grown from hormonal sparring partners into beloved friends, learning wonderful lessons along the way. She never ceases to amaze me in her dedication to her family, her zeal for life and stiff upper lip in troubling times.

Besides travel, my favorite thing to do with my Mom is watching movies! Today I’m going to share our favorite movies to watch together, ones I think perfectly capture the spirit of motherhood, growth, and love.  They’re not what you might expect us to watch, so check out the list below for some surprises!

Note: Don’t worry Dad, you’ll get your shine on Father’s Day!

 

Muriel’s Wedding

Mom and I first watched this Australian film starring Toni Collette when Blockbuster was your best option for grabbing a stack of weekend movies. The story revolves around a young Australian woman named Mariel who is positively obsessed with getting married. After stealing money from her father – a local politician – Mariel moves to Sydney with her best friend and changes her name to Muriel for a fresh start. Along the way, she lands a husband, but realizes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

This flick is our favorite one, because I think we both see a little bit of ourselves in Muriel. Neither of us are thieves, nor have we changed our names, but Muriel has this pure fascination with love and romance that Mom and I share. We’ve both read our fair share of romance novels. Also, the Abba soundtrack is fire!

Channel 9 channel 9 muriel's wedding 9murielswedding GIF

 

The Dark Crystal

There’s something so weirdly lovable about this Jim Henson puppet production that keeps us fawning over the Gelflings and Mystics. The film is a fantasy extravaganza about a Gelfling boy named Jen who must travel across his world to heal the mysterious dark crystal to restore peace and balance to the land. There’s no way I could ever write enough to convey how straight up strange this film is, but we love it! Mom always giggles at a particular scene – a flashback – of a baby Jen splashing in a tub.

The journey Jen takes leads him to so many outrageous characters and locales that really suck you into the world, which is why we love this one. Jen’s journey is all about strength, love and sacrifice – qualities we try to emulate in our lives.

jim henson 80s GIF

 

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

This is one of the very first movies that Mom and I went to by ourselves, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. Honestly, what’s not to love about this film? Not only does it manage to capture the 90’s in a perfectly problematic snapshot, but you also get to watch Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo work it in outfits I could never pull off. The trio play drag queens traveling from NYC to California to compete for the title of Drag Queen of The Year, but get stranded in the middle of the country in a small town that is in desperate need of their magic.

This movie, above all else, is about the bonds of friendship that help us to transform our lives for ourselves. Every character grows to claim ownership of their identities, their lives, and their inherent power; it’s a film I always cry over. I’m so thankful my Mom didn’t think I was too young to learn lessons from a picture others might have shied away from.

 

fabulous patrick swayze GIF

 

That’s it for today, folks! Have you seen these films? Let me know in the comments what movies you love to watch with your mother or mother-figure!

 

 

 

Wednesday Inspiration: Andrea Pippins

Heyo, gang!

I hope your week has been full of good times and great food. Today I wanted to share some artwork from one of my favorite illustrators out there, Andrea Pippins! If you’re not familiar with her work, you should be.

Image by Andrea Pippins via andreapippins.com

I first heard of this wonderful artist in 2008 when I was desperately trying to learn everything I could about my natural hair. After cutting off my 3-year-old locs, which I had gotten immediately after transitioning out of a relaxer, I was flailing like a fish on a dock. No one around me knew what to do. Thankfully, I had access to the natural hair movement online. Sites like Curly Nikki and Black Girl With Long Hair gave me the details I needed to make it, but when I stumbled upon Andrea’s site, Fly Girl Blog, my whole world changed. Andrea not only featured naturals from creative fields, but also shared design and illustration inspiration that kept me hooked.

Image by Andrea Pippins via andreapippins.com

Bright colors are my kryptonite once the weather surges out of arctic temperatures, which is where my best friend (in my mind) Andrea Pippins comes into play! Her work not only captures the summer for me, but it also just makes me feel good about living. Andrea has created coloring books about natural hair, personal development and now has a collaborative effort out with Jamia Wilson , the children’s book Young, Gifted and Black.

Image via andreapippins.com
Image via

I have absolutely loved watching Andrea’s professional development as a fan. I hope her artwork brightens your day as much as it does mine! Head over to andreapippins.com to see more of her work!

 

The Balancing Act of Emotional Fortification

Saturday May 5th Donald Glover hosted and performed on Saturday Night Live, which turned out to be a bigger event than I believe anyone was really prepared for. The show was funny – especially that Kanye skit – his musical performances were brilliant, and I was left wondering what in the world Donald Glover can’t do. However, the music video he dropped for “This is America” at the same time he was performing on the show shook me to my core. Check out the video below if you haven’t yet seen it, then we’ll go in.

Note: there are images of violence that may be triggering. Please skip to my commentary if you’re not ready for that right now. 

 

Wow, right? He didn’t come to just entertain us with your run-of-the-mill club banger. He chose to say something to us. Now, I’m not going to break down every single frame with commentary, because that’s been done much better than I can. However, what I will do is challenge you to look at this piece of artwork and apply to your own life with me.

What stands out the most – I believe purposefully – is Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) dancing with the school children as the world around them descends into chaos. They do the most popular dances on the scene right now, smiling and hamming it up for the camera like many of our faves do on Instagram or Snapchat. My first instinct was to think “oh he’s trying to say we naturally look for diversions, because life is so short and we need a little joy”, which on many levels is true, but that’s not where my mind settled. After watching again, and picking up more of the nuance, I realized it goes beyond a simple emotional interlude from the destruction of the world around us. It’s more than resigning to be happy despite your inability to control how things shake out. Instead, I felt challenged to hold myself accountable for the ways I actively choose to ignore bad things to protect myself.

I’ve often heard people talk about self-care as an act of avoidance. You avoid the hard topics with loved ones. You keep your head down on the way to the gym or yoga class. We turn the channel when the news comes on, or mute political commentary on our Twitter accounts. I personally stopped watching anything that didn’t contain some type of sparkle, because I literally cannot with the bad feels. Spoiler alert: I haven’t been made any happier by my conscious avoidance.  Yes, it is important to maintain your emotional health, and sometimes that entails holding off on the bad until you’re emotionally ready to confront it, but what if you never allow yourself to be ready for that confrontation? Think of it like this: an osterich with its head in the dirt might not see the lion coming, but that’s not going to save it from being eaten. That analogy is a little dark for a Monday, but stay with me!

We can’t hide ourselves from the world for the sake of ourselves. Sometimes this life makes me want to build a castle around my mind, with a mote full of sharks that have lasers attached to their heads. Studying history taught me that castles are great for keeping things out, yet they keep things in just as well. Just as I’m free from ugly things, I’m also short-changing the good things I might be able to release into the world once I’ve been able to experience life fully. Growth is the only way we can push our minds toward discovery, and it just so happens that sometimes growth involves confronting the darkness. You don’t have to leave your castle walls unprotected, but consider dropping the drawbridge every now and then.

I support you taking care of yourself and your emotional health, but I hope you show yourself some love by confronting things that have weighed heavily on your mind. Hiding from the pain only prolongs it; you deserve to be happy and that happiness might exist on the other side of a difficult situation. So, I encourage you to engage with the good and the uncomfortable today so that you can continue to grow. Then, after you shake off the dust, pop on a sheet mask.

You got this.

Three Star Wars Characters You Should Know

Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me.  Please share your suggestions below!

Happy Star Wars Day! I hope you’re outside playing with a lightsaber, pretending the whole midichlorian debacle never happened, which is exactly what I’ve been doing! To say Star Wars are a big part of my life would be the understatement of the century; my parents are two geeks with a deep love of that magical galaxy, so my youth was surrounded by images of Luke, Leia, Han and Yoda, with rarely a weekend devoid of a marathon. It was heaven for a little nerd like me! I’m so thankful the world is back on board with how cool the universe George Lucas created is.

As we gear up for the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I wanted to share three of my favorite Star Wars characters, outside of our original band of rebels (or bounty hunters if you’re a Boba Fett kind of girl).  They’ve become some of my most beloved side characters due to their moxie and strength.  If you’re not a huge Star Wars fans, don’t worry! I think the characters I’ve elected to share with you are great for learning more about the world. Let’s dive in!

 

Image result for sana solo

Sana Solo

Good old Han was a dirty dog long before he literally shot his way into our hearts. This cat not only stole and killed, but he also perpetrated a tiny bit of marriage fraud for a scheme. That’s where Sana comes in! Born on Nar Shaddaa, the smuggler worked her way up through the ranks in the criminal underworld until she ran into Han. They became partners, using a fake marriage to commit a robbery. However, Han betrayed Sana and ran off with her cut of the take! Now, I love Han, but he deserved the grief Sana would eventually put him through when she found him with Princess Leia. By that time, Leia had a huge bounty on her head, which Sana planned to make good on. Instead, she allowed them both to live. Sana isn’t a major character by any means, yet in her quick arch I saw someone I truly rooted for. Not only because she was done dirty by a man that couldn’t stay honest if you paid him, but because she was a survivor with a conscience. Add on the fact that she was one of few POC characters, smart, and funny and you’ve got a hero tailor-made for a girl like me. I truly hope they bring her back to cause some chaos in Han’s life on screen.

Quinlan Vos
Image via https://www.starwars.com/databank/quinlan-vos

Quinlan Vos

This guy is a complex, yet lovable character. Quinlan Vos became a Jedi Master and expert tracker, who could see the memories of others in objects they had once possessed. Cool, right? Quinlan Vos partnered with Obi-wan Kenobi on missions, becoming an invaluable asset to the Jedi Order. Eventually, Quinlan would be forced to go undercover with the Sith to determine the identity of their Sith Lord to stop the spread of evil in the universe. He fell in love, eventually coming to question the Jedi Laws and the grey area between light and dark. Quinlan Vos is a character that forces fans to revisit their own preconceptions about the Jedi, the Empire and what it takes to be a hero after you’ve crossed your own moral lines. If you want to know more about Quinlan’s story I highly recommend the book “Dark Disciple” by Christie Golden! 

 

Shaak Ti1
Image via http://star-wars-canon-extended.wikia.com/wiki/Shaak_Ti by Konami

Shaak Ti

I dare you to find a character more visually striking than Jedi Master Shaak Ti. She is regal to the extreme, yet deadly to anyone silly enough to challenge her. Contrary to what we saw in the films. here are a lot of female Jedi in the expanded Star Wars Universe. Shaak Ti represents that notion that female Jedi do in fact get to seize power among the ranks of your Yodas and your Kenobis. Shaak Ti was masterfully diplomatic – she ranked among the brightest leaders of the Jedi Council, opting to use her mind more often than her weapon. She was a force to be reckoned with in the struggle against light and dark.

 

I hope you enjoyed learning about these characters! Jump into the comments to tell me about your favorite characters or favorite things about Star Wars!