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New Year’s Promise

Happy New Year! I’m here again to get a tad personal because it’s our Anniversary, and thus a perfect time to renew our vows.

The hardest thing about being a writer is writing. Sure the writer’s block makes things hard. And yes, when the mission is to lend my voice to the issues and there’s too much unpleasantness going on for me to focus on just one thing, I get overwhelmed. But if I’m honest–and I’m always honest with you–its that every time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I expose my soul. Especially because I insist on this “impeccability with my word,” so much of who I am comes through in my writing, and I often find myself needing to reel myself in. If not for editing, I’d be naked on these pages.

Soooo, why am I telling you this? Why am I opening myself up on this, our 4-year anniversary together, about this? Why… because I want to… and intend to spend more time with you.  I know that I’ve made this promise before, but this year, I want to be different. I’m stepping into 2018 with a different focus: transparency. It’s not enough to be honest with you; I have to be impeccable with my word. I can Do More posting and Require Better transparency as it relates to the issues and Dig Deep into my thoughts on them. I will be a better version of the Reign O’Change you’ve been not seeing.

Here’s a sample…

~~ . ~~ . ~~

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and kind… and giving… and appreciative… and retrospective… or at least that’s what it used to be. Why are people so insistent on being rude and unpleasant to each other? This so-called “clap back” culture where every response or interaction has to sting is just one more sign that we are losing the battle. You can’t be an ass hole your entire life. I know, its tempting to try, but believe me, you can’t… well, you shouldn’t. The day will come where you will have been rude to the wrong person, and they’ll beat your ass the way your momma should’ve the first time you thought you could talk to anyone just any kind of way. I’m just saying.

Do More. Require Better.

RSI: Redefining Beauty

Beauty. Cuteness. Attractive. Adorable… A young man called me beautiful last night. Part of me wanted to smile and say thank you shyly. Instead I said “I know, and thank you for noticing!”… Still with a smile, but not the kind that usually goes with feigned humility or embarrassment. I accepted his compliment. Once I did, the voices in my head took over, telling me that he probably didn’t really mean it. I told me that I’m only pretty to a very select few kinds of people, let alone beautiful. I told me that I certainly shouldn’t have been so forward about accepting that compliment. Luckily, I’ve always been good at faking positivity in the face of soul crushing negativity. Seamlessly and without hesitation, I continued the exchange with witty quips and flirty sass.

. . .

When he left, I laid back on my couch and focused my energies on quieting the voices in my head, lest I give myself nightmares.

This picture and the “article” it leads to inspired this conversation…

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

… because as striking and terribly cute as this little girl is, that she is being touted as the most beautiful girl in the world, is very telling. As it is, beauty standards make living life as “the-not-average” difficult enough. Imagine that this little girl will eventually crumble under a standard that she’ll be held to at least until puberty, if not for the rest of her life. How is she going to deal with her first pimple? How will she deal with the mean people determined to knock her off of a pedestal she didn’t ask to be placed on.

I won’t lie to you; my initial reaction involved merciless judgment and disagreement. I started making comparisons to pictures of children who more closely fit my definition of beauty. Then I just saw her; simple and innocent. Then I remembered last night, and my reaction to being called “a very beautiful woman”; and concluded that This is a thing I could stand to Do Better.

So much of what we believe and think is really a reflection of someone else’s thoughts and perceptions. We are–after all–the summed total of every interaction. Our programming can be influenced, changed, and manipulated by the simplest of passing glances or backhanded compliments. For example, it isn’t so much that I don’t think I’m beautiful, because I do. The problem is that I know I don’t fit what the masses have deemed as beautiful. Just looking at the little girl, you can see that the generally accepted form of beauty involves pale skin and light eyes. I have neither. Suddenly, my understanding of beauty is fading into the background, getting overtaken by others’ definition of it.

Here’s the thing: I can acknowledge that beauty standards are impossible and cruel while appreciating someone’s beauty, including my own. I can also disagree with someone’s definition of beauty while accepting that they are entitled to their definition. Most importantly, other people’s definition of beauty doesn’t diminish mine… nor does it diminish yours. You are allowed to be a feel beautiful, even if you don’t fit into the tiny box where society keeps its acceptance.

This is my wish for this year: to be and feel beautiful, happy, and at peace with my position in life, wherever that may be. I’d also like to help and inspire others to think and feel similarly. If I was the kind of person to make a New Year’s resolution, this would be it. So:

Happy New Year!

Happy Anniversary (to me)

and, as always: Do More. Require Better.

Dig Deep.

You are beautiful.

and that’s My #50percent.

It’s Been A Long Time… I Shouldn’a Left You…

I promise, I only left because… because… let me do this right. 

I’d love to say that I left because our Ruthless Leader decided to take a different path, but that would be a lie; I was mostly MIA quite a while before that happened. Y’all know I’m not much for lies, duplicity, or feigning optimism, so I’m going to apologize in advance if I shatter any false ideas you’ve cultivated over the years. The simple version is that I was pulling my life together. Unfortunately, the simple version never quite does it for me, so here we go:

I was busy being depressed. I couldn’t keep telling you to “Do More. Require Better.” when I barely wanted to do anything at all. I’ve been open about my depression, specifically because of what I believe to be my 50 percent, but I haven’t been open about how useless and ineffective the proverbial voices in my head tell me my writing is. I recognize that maybe once upon a time I had a legitimate following  before I started slipping. I also understand, or believe, that in all things, there must be balance. My depression makes it so I can’t see how anything I do means anything. Regardless of my efforts, there will still be pain, suffering, malice, disease, famine, poverty, discord, racism, sexism, and all other forms of unpleasantness. I was left asking “What is any of this for?” The only logical answer I could find: “Naught.”

So what’s a Reign O’Change to do?  I certainly couldn’t keep writing things I no longer believed. There was no Change on the horizon. I was incapable of believing that Justice would actually prevail. Thus, I stopped. It really wasn’t a conscious decision. I kept thinking, “I’ll come back to this one…” or “this issue doesn’t need my voice…” and “Do I really want be one more person blogging about Donamir Trutin’s ineptitude?” Lots of things to write about, but no drive to lend my energy to what seemed like yet another unwinnable battle.

So why are we here today? We’re here because I lost a friend. He’s still very much alive. He’s just not invited to the table anymore. Now, let me be clear: this young man literally came to the cookout. He brought deviled eggs and they were delicious. He tried to teach me how to play HALO. I promoted his craft as a Tattoo Artist. I defended him in public forum against an overzealous supervisor. So when I tell you “I lost a friend.” I mean I lost someone who I thought would be a permanent resident in the complex place that is my heart. How? It all started because of this story I shared on Facebook.

Truth be told, I didn’t even read the article. I figured the least I could do was continue conversing about things Requiring conversation. It’s yet another example of Hollywood deciding that Brown people are better represented by artificially tanned white people.  #RepresentationMatters is a battle cry for those of us who remain unseen and misrepresented by the media. How was I supposed to know it would devolve into “a friend” accusing me of hating white people. If anyone had told me that he would conclude that I was one step away from being a terrorist, I’d have laughed them to scorn. We had Jon Snowed our way through our friendship: we knew nothing about each other.

In my anger, I wrote this entire post, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to come back. That should’ve been–and might still end up being–an addition to The Letter Series. It could’ve been a head-first dive into Decorum Deficiency Disorder. I would’ve gotten so many more hits and shares if only I hadn’t forgotten the purpose of my mission.

#DoMoreRequireBetter is about me doing my #50percent more often and better. So, here’s how this is going to work: I’m back. I’m not mincing words, holding hands, faking the funk, or coddling Anyone. I won’t promise to be here every week, but I’ll be here with all the passion and vigor I can muster… because the conversations still need to be had. We will #RESIST and continue #NotBackingDown because the Cheeto in Chief has earned my wrath. In short: I’m here to Do More & Require Better.