Six Months in Quarantine and Life

September makes 6 months since we have been quarantined; 6 whole months and after all of this time I am grateful for life. With learning that over 200,000 Americans passed away from COVID-19, how can you not value life? Life is so precious. We get to wake up every morning, sometimes with the sun shining on our face exuding its luxurious energy on us. We have choices with what we do and how we live our lives. The choice to live, the choice to love, the choice to create, the choice to reflect, the choice to give back, the choice to withhold, choices. Even constrained within my apartment, I choose to live, to write, to think, to take up space, to pray, to read, to love…I choose.

This month work became a priority. I was preparing for a major event that my company hosts which further pushes Inclusion for our employees. For those that don’t know I am a Diversity and Inclusion Manager. I’ve been doing this work for 4-years and I love every second of it. While this project has stretched me in many areas and kept me up all hours of the night, I have really grown professionally from this experience. Something that I am really proud of was being able to produce an event with the creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones and contributor, Linda Villarosa. Being able to amplify their voices, when so many are trying to tear them down was beyond powerful. One of the best parts of the production was a slideshow that we worked on illustrating some of the contributions of Blacks in America over the Black Parade track by Beyoncé.

In preparation for this major undertaking at work, I had to read some books chileeee. This month, I read:

  • Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.
  • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • Clap Before You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I did go crazy and bought some new books too. I have issues. Here’s the amazing stack of books I plan to get through at some point. I say I have issues because I have all of these books and still somehow find an excuse to buy more, how is that possible?

Since I’ve been studying, researching, and reading, I honestly have not had time to do a deep dive into my TV world but what I will say about my TV journey this month is that it’s quality over quantity. I started watching I May Destroy You and I am left speechless. I have one more episode left and I will not watch it because I don’t want the series to end. I feel triggered. It makes me cry. It makes me laugh, it makes me feel seen but I am triggered and that’s all I care to say about that. CONSENT is such a powerful thing and I am so happy that Michaela Coel exists. I also finished the series Younger. Younger follows the journey of white women in publishing with one character who lies about her age to break into the industry. I was a huge fan of the show in the beginning but I think the storyline has exhausted all possibilities. I also think there’s a huge erasure of race and people of color on this show, which became stark as the seasons went on. I found myself focusing on opportunities where they could’ve casted a BIPOC actor and somehow did not. I plan on doing a deep dive on this in the future.

Summer came and went. It was the first summer; I really didn’t spend much time basking in the sun or going to a beach or doing anything like that. I was actually hella stressed this month. Out of that stress came a lot of things. One, I cut my hair. I am not 100% sure if my hair falls out as a result of stress…maybe. But it has been damaged for almost a year now and I just didn’t think there was anything left to do to it besides cut it, so that’s what I did and I think it came out amazing. After a week of begging, my boyfriend helped me shave the back off. Now that I am on my new hair journey, I wish I could report to you that my skin journey is going well but it’s still a hot mess. My skin has not changed since quarantine. I still have acne and dark spots and may have to go to a dermatologist.  

My boyfriend noticed how stressed I was and took me on an amazing date day. We went to the Sunflower farm in Long Island but unfortunately all of the sunflowers were dead. After that, we went to Lift/Next Level Floats, where for one-hour we left our cares at the door and floated in tons of salt water.

In other news, Breonna Taylor’s murderers got off scot-free when the grand jury charged only one officer with endangering the neighbors and their wall. No one was charged with the death of Breonna Taylor. How much more can we take? It’s painful. Really painful and this is only the beginning. In my personal education and learnings of race, I know I shouldn’t be surprised that America places more value on a wall than a black woman and yet, I am because it sounds so ludicrous, that America places so little value on life and the life of a black woman. Shame on the systems that uphold racism and white supremacy. Shame on it all. I want to remind each and every one of you to VOTE! Vote like your life depended on it because it does. That first debate enraged my soul. It was so horrifying to reckon that this is who Americans have elected as their President. Racism is wild. Continue to educate yourself on the racial history of the United States. Read books. Read Articles. Listen to Podcasts. Do the work.  It’s so important to do so.

Finally, Trader Joes has an amazing salad kit that I am obsessed with Broccoli and Kale Salad, yum. Sometimes I add shrimp to it, but it’s perfectly fine without. This is the perfect refreshing treat to jumpstart your fall in a healthy way.

Until next month…

The Wilderness: June/July Depression

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The month of June triggered a depression in me that I have been trying to shake since the death of my dog, Charlie. I had all of the classic symptoms, not eating, not sleeping, not being as productive as I could, always crying, yet I was still functional. It wasn’t healthy and to be honest if it wasn’t for my praying mother, I probably would still be in that space.

Charlie was family. He showed unconditional love towards me. Out of everyone in the family, I think I was his favorite. We had kindred spirits and I miss him every single day. He rarely got mad at me, unless I tried to bother him while eating and after he snapped at me that one time, I never did it again (he also eventually apologized for snapping by licking my leg). I was the only person he let brush his teeth and I miss his sweet kisses and expressions of love. What I yearn for most, is hearing his knock on my door. When he was at my door and it was closed, he would stand up, scratch it, I would open the door and he would come in and give me a hug before being a brat and wanting to come on my bed (or maybe I wanted him on my bed). If I wasn’t there or took too long to open my door, he would sometimes wait for me at the door. The loss of Charlie, man oh man, it has been so hard.

But what I also realized, is Charlie’s death wasn’t the only thing that spiraled me into a depression. I had been hoarding a lot of feelings internally and not processing all of the things that were happening to me and changing in my life. I was just moving. Going fast, being busy, and not taking the time to be still.

Be still. It’s such an important lesson that God tries to teach us. I love in the bible when people end up in the wilderness. The wilderness sounds like such a scary place, filled with loneliness, solitude, and even darkness, but it’s not. It’s a powerful place that’s preparing you for the time when you come out of the wilderness and the powerhouse that you will be. It’s a time when even though it seems like you’re all alone, GOD is right there with you, talking to you, whispering in your ear and he’s the most important voice you need to hear. That’s how I am viewing this very moment in my life. The wilderness.

While in this wilderness, I am going to take time to practice radical self-care and focus on me. I am going to set boundaries. I am going to process the things I have not been dealing with. I am going to learn how to pray more. I am going to learn how to pray for others (it’s not all about me). I am going to therapy. I am going to disrupt to rebuild. I am going to say no a lot. I may also say yes. I am going to do whatever gets me back to a strong foundation.

As I mentioned earlier, if it wasn’t for a praying mama, I would still be in my funk and not have this much clarity. Some of the other things I watched were sermons. One sermon, gave me permission to have the same feelings towards God as Habakkuk did in the bible. Another sermon, emboldened me for the change that’s coming around the corner. Sharing all of the sermons that moved me below:

Sometimes God Makes Me Really Angry – Pastor Tim Dilena

http://sermons.tsc.nyc/sometimes-god-makes-me-really-really-angry/

Bible Project Overview: Habakkuk – Bible Project Makes the bible digestible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPMaRqGJPUU

How To Get Your Fight Back – Bishop T.D. Jakes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haaqkRW1MCQ

Desperate for Jesus Conference Day 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nho8w9XSMCc

While this is an insane, uncertain time for everyone, I encourage you to find the silver lining. I will do the same.

Staying Afloat During Quarantine

Quarantine during the month of June proved that what I thought was bad could get worst. The month began with a desire that I could not shake, to bake…so I did. I baked red velvet cupcakes with buttercream icing. I remember baking in the midst of listening to the escalation of protests across the country on CNN. Baking was meant to calm my nerves and even distract me. I couldn’t answer another text from non-black friends, asking for resources. I could not stand to see people label the protestors as thugs. I could not fathom that Breonna Taylor’s murderers were still free and I could not process the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, CO. The fact that he had to defend his humanity while being murdered by police for “walking while black” is heart-wrenching, proving that the current state of affairs is in dire need of disruption. I was angry, hurt, and exhausted, so baking was my escape. The cupcakes came out delicious.

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I work in Diversity and Inclusion, so this month has been extra intense. Sending major prayers to all of the D&I professionals out there. The spotlight and pressure is on us and it can be very overwhelming but keep pushing, you got this! It’s bigger than us and this is the time we’ve been preparing for; being a change agent comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s so worth it at the end of the day.

Things went from bad to worst on June 7, 2020. My dog, Charlie, the love of my life, passed away suddenly on that day and I have been battling with grief and depression ever since. I am taking this really hard and I am struggling. The void of him no longer being here is so big, nothing seems to be able to fill it. He was so loved. And he showed us, unconditional love. There were so many plans we had for him and now, he’s gone. Pray for me and my family because we are not okay.

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On a brighter note, about half-way through the month, I was able to post some new content on my YouTube channel and get creative with my writing. I am still on my hair and skin journey, which are both a work in progress but I have faith. Also, my TV journey is going strong.

Happy Pride Month!!!!!!!I discovered POSE, which is my new favorite show. It allowed me to go down a rabbit hole of ballroom culture culminating with the Paris is Burning documentary. So much of pop-culture is appropriated from the LGBTQ community. I also watched an amazing documentary on Netflix called Disclosure about the portrayal of the transgender community in media. There are black trans lives that are being murdered at alarming rates. I am proud of our movement for making space for All Black Lives because they matter.  Check out the other shows I watched this month:

Tv Shows June

7 PM is one of the few things during this quarantine that gives me joy. I appreciate that every day at that time, my neighborhood gathers together to ring bells, clap, bang, and make a loud noise in celebration for our essential workers. It’s actually something I look forward to and a reminder that we are all in this together.

Thank you essential workers!

Thank you protestors!

Yall are the real MVPs.