Memory Lane

Earlier this week I had the chance to chat with a friend (I’m using this term loosely) that I catch up with about once a year. We usually meet up in person but schedules wouldn’t allow it so we had to settle for a video chat. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and there were SO many things left unsaid that the conversation just felt heavy? It was like that. I was cool and kept it as surface and general as possible without getting into anything too personal. Annual conversations aren’t the best outlet to bare your soul. But as I talked to him I remembered the memories we’ve had over the years. I remember a moment when we were hanging out and I felt both incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time. It was a bittersweet moment in exponential proportions. It’s interesting how conversations with someone can bring back so many memories. I realized that I haven’t met anyone lately who even remotely compares to him education wise and also in ambition. While it’s not a bad thing, it does make dating just a little bit harder. The point is that there are some people in your life who you love but you really should only speak to once a year.

The Hair Chronicles

Like many black women, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. It really tends to have a mind of its own and rarely submits to my commands. These days there’s a lot of hype on embracing one’s natural beauty and avoiding chemicals in order to leave hair in its natural state. About a year or so ago my hair was very damaged and required a hairdresser intervention. She gave me a protective style in order to help my hair to grow back. I’ve always had very thick hair that was challenging to manage. Growing up, my mother used a relaxer on it for a few years and then changed her mind deciding that I needed to go natural. It was ok for a few years. I didn’t look my age because of the cornrows but I really didn’t care that much because we lived in the middle of nowhere (literally) with no boys in sight for miles. However, after moving to the Atlanta metro area I decided it was time for a change and (finally) my dad backed me up in getting my hair relaxed again so it would be easier to style. Fast forward two days ago when I finally took my hair out of the protective style that it had been in for over a year. My hair was completely chemical free. I washed and dried it about 3 times in an attempt to get it to the point that I could comb through it. I broke several combs in the process and still was unable to get through all the tangles. It literally would not cooperate and I decided that I needed to see an expert. Once at the hairshop I had a brief consultation with my stylist who took one look at my hair and recommended putting a relaxer back in. As much as I liked the idea of being chemical free, the day to day upkeep of it was a commitment that I just was not willing to make. So I agreed and I am now back on the creamy crack. I can comb through my hair and now I can swim and workout without altering my entire day. It’s a beautiful thing. Will I ever go natural again? To be honest, probably not.

Post-Love Day 

Today almost everything related to chocolates and candy is half off because the day is over. It’s always fun to see all the corny and sincere Valentine’s Day declarations. From the self loving single who proclaims that it’s his or her day to pamper themselves to the newly engaged couples with the smiles from ear to ear and to the older couples who have raised a family together and now are empty nesters. In years past I greeted the day with a mixture of frustration and happiness for all the people posting pictures of the awesome stuff they got. It warms my heart to see people happy and (at least for a few moments) publicly recognizing their significant others. It’s a day to appreciate what you have and acknowledge the role of love in the world–at least some degree. 

Getting Out

It’s been a really long week for a variety of reasons so I decided to make the best of my one day weekend. One thing that I really enjoy is music because it’s a universal language. There’s rarely any significant period of time that goes by without me turning on a song or playing an album by an artist I enjoy. I haven’t gone to a concert in a while because I’ve been either traveling or working but when I saw a flyer advertising the concert of an artist who I enjoy listening to, I bought a ticket on a whim. While I really wanted to stay at my house and sleep, it’s a goal of mine to get out more and be more social. Plus, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go somewhere that didn’t require me to use my professional skills in some capacity. Despite the fact that I bought a ticket, I almost decided against going last minute because of all the extra effort. But I went and I’m glad I did. The concert featured soul music and many of the songs performed were remade versions of some great hits from decades past.  Avery Sunshine was among one of the artists that performed and she  was absolutely amazing as she sang and engaged the audience to sing her background vocals on one of the songs. There was great energy and I enjoyed sitting back and taking it all in. I have a lot of respect for artists who can hold a space without losing the audience and still be their authentic selves. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the concert finished around midnight or so. It reminded me of how therapeutic music can be. Maybe the focus this year will be on exploring where I live instead of traveling quite as much.

The importance of closure

Not too long ago I had to make a decision that was uncomfortable but had to be done. I believe in trying to live without regrets and I knew that not taking action would result in regret later. Closure is something that has always been important to me. While it’s a luxury at times, the ability to wrap something up with a nice pretty bow before it’s discarded. There aren’t any loose ends to wrap up. I’ve learned the hard way that it is worth it sometimes to be uncomfortable for a moment instead of having a lifetime of regret. Usually closure is something that’s done for me in some weird twist of circumstances and fate. The difference in this situation was that the responsibility rested solely on me. I had to step up to the plate. I think that having closure is better than carrying around something that we have no control over. It helps us to move on and accept change. No, it may not have turned out the way we would have chosen but there’s a certain peace attached to being able to accept, adjust, and move forward because a chapter of our lives has ended. 

Self Care 

For the past few years I’ve been one to associate happiness with a geographical location. Namely foreign countries and the southern region of the United States. However, I think that that is also related to my occupation. From the moment that I say I’m a social worker the usual reaction is, “I could never do that, it’s such a hard job.” And I agree that it is. My undergraduate experience with social work was varied and included working with felons and patients on hospice. It was then when I had to work hands on with others when I discovered that people are a lot more complicated in real like than they are in textbooks. Thankfully, I had a very well rounded experience in college that gave a pretty accurate depiction of the field. I knew that I didn’t want the stereotypical job of a county caseworker and I wanted to focus more on the counseling side. Somehow I found my way to the mental health field and have stayed in some capacity ever since. The thing about mental health is that it is the opposite of predictable. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s stressful and it’s real. But it’s also rewarding. However, it takes a lot out of you. I’ve heard stories that have been horrific and have talked to hundreds of individuals who are experiencing their own personal crisis. That’s why this field is so notorious for burn out and people who are so overwhelmed with their job responsibilities that they’ve given up completely. There are some days where I wish I could publish some of the stories I hear because truth is stranger than fiction. One of the best things about traveling is the physical distance between myself and the daily chaos I work in. It’s like a breath of fresh air and a chance to finally relax to some degree and not think about work related things. Self care at its finest.