Friday, September 16, 2016

Just Get Over It Already!

A few years ago when I was still a stay-at-home mom, I was making one of my usual trips to the grocery store. It was probably my fourth time there that week, which was far from out of the ordinary. I parked, grabbed a cart from the corral, and proceeded to enter the store. If you’re like many busy people in this country, you’ll understand that I was in rush mode. I had so many things to do and a limited amount of time in which to do them. We’ll talk another time about how bad rush mode is for the body and mind. There was an elderly gentleman in front of me entering the store and, in my hurry, I accidentally hit the back of his ankle with my cart. The howl that emanated from that man’s very soul still haunts me to this day.

Of course, I profusely apologized. I felt horribly for hitting him. I was mortified. His response, in a loud, barking voice was, “I know you’re sorry!” I immediately took offense. How dare this man yell at me! Can’t he see that I’m sorry? Can’t he see how sincere my apology is? Why is he being so mean? I stormed off and left him leaning against the wall in the vestibule and never thought about him again. Until now.

You see, I had hurt him. And even though I apologized and my apology was sincere, that didn’t take away his pain. He was still hurting from my actions, unintentional though they were. He was still feeling the sting of seventy-pounds of steel smashing into his Achilles tendon, and he wasn't yet in a place to be all warm and fuzzy with me. He wasn’t saying, “I don’t accept your apology.” He was saying, “Give me minute. This still hurts.”

If you’re wondering why someone you’ve wronged is not yet over it, you have to give them a chance to stop feeling the pain. Sometimes what seems like a superficial transgression, turns out to inflict a much deeper wound. It might be over for you, but they’re still feeling the sting. They probably have already accepted your apology. They might not feel any hostility or ill-will for you. But it still hurts.
Give them a minute…even if that “minute” turns into several months or years.

You have no right to tell someone how pain affects them. You have no right to expect them to “get over it” on your timetable. We all experience life differently. We all handle triumphs and tragedies differently. The way I process information is different than the way you process information. Do you know why? Because I’m not you. Because you’re not me. We’re as different as night and day and those differences should be celebrated. They should be cultivated. We should allow someone the space to hurt as well as to heal and to expect the same courtesy in return.

Give them a minute, will you?

Until next time,

Feed on love; subsist on peace.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


My husband and I were separated for the better part of 2012. During that time I lived about twenty miles away in a different county. When we separated, it was right in the middle of the school year. Not wanting to put my kids through anymore drastic changes, they stayed with my husband during the week for school, and then they would spend the weekends with me. It was difficult being away from them, and I was terribly lonely.

In my new neighborhood, I was the only single woman. There were families and there were single men, but no other single women. The women in the neighborhood had an automatic disdain for me until they learned that I was, in fact, a lovely person. Not only was I lovely, but I had no intentions on having torrid affairs with their husbands.

I was friendly to everyone in the neighborhood (it was something like a cul de sac, but not quite), but I never quite made friends with any of them. I would sometimes stop and have brief conversations, but no one invited into their homes for tea and vice versa.

One day, when my kids weren't there and I was all alone, my next door neighbor, a single man who lived alone with his dog, struck up a conversation with me as I walked to my car. Now this is a guy who had given me the creeps since I moved in. I try not to judge people in general, but the energy signature this guy exuded made me nervous. Up until this moment, he and I had barely spoken a word to each other outside of "hello."

He started to tell me about his aquarium, and all the fish that he had in there. I politely nodded, but really, I just wanted to go to my car and leave. At some point in the conversation, he asked, "You haven't seen it?" Of course, I hadn't seen it and he knew that. Remember, this was the longest conversation we'd had thus far. I said no. "Come on," he said. "I'll show you."

At that moment, every single hair on the back of my neck stood up. I felt an intense sense of fear as I hesitantly said, "OK." I followed him up his walkway toward his home. As I did so, I looked around to see if anyone else was around. This was a neighborhood that was always bustling with activity, but not today. There wasn't one person outside or, as far as I could tell, even looking out a window. Where the hell were the nosy neighbors when you needed them?

Against my better judgement, because I didn't want to hurt his feelings, I followed him into his house. I'll let that sink in for a minute. I followed a man I didn't know or trust into his home when no one was around to witness it. Because I didn't want to appear impolite.

When I walked into his home, my nose was assaulted by the foulest stench you could imagine. To this day, I couldn't tell you what it was. His house was filthy, it smelled horrible, and his fish were swimming around in cloudy water. The water looked like he hadn't ever changed it. Luckily, the fish tank was right off the kitchen area, which wasn't that far from the front door. Even luckier was the fact that he didn't try to hurt me or otherwise take me prisoner in his filthy home.

I said, "Oh, yeah. Those fish are really nice." Then I power walked out of his house. The reasons? Eight percent so I wouldn't get sick from the smell, seven percent because I was still uncomfortable, and 85 percent because I didn't want to take my last breath in a place like that. You know how, in the movies, a person will be close to death and they say, 'it can't end like this, not here?' Yeah...I was having that exact inner dialogue.

I made it out safely, but the moral of this story is to always trust your intuition, even if it means you must be impolite to others. Even if others will think you're a bitch for doing it. Trust your intuition.
Ted Bundy killed many women because he made them feel sorry for him. Even though their intuition was probably screaming at them to walk away, they couldn't say no to an injured man. It cost them their lives. This could have easily been the case for me. Every time I think of this story, I get chills at the thought of what might have happened had this guy been a different person. Think about it with me: I lived alone for the most part, so no one would have noticed my absence for at least a work week. No one was around to see me enter his home, so there would be no clues as to where one might start looking for me. I would have been one of those people who seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. My family would have spent the last four years wondering where I was and what happened to me. My children might have believed that I abandoned them. And all because I was afraid to be impolite.

Women are taught to be polite to a fault. If we don't, people will label us as bitches. And oh my God, we can't have that, can we? People will think I'm a mean person, so I must risk my safety in order to avoid offending anyone.

We have to stop that. Listen to your inner voice. You instinctively know if something is bad for you. You can sense a bad vibe. Even if you have no evidence to support your instinct, listen to it anyway. For instance, my neighbor didn't do anything to hurt me, but that doesn't mean my intuition was wrong. What if he lost his nerve? What if he wasn't expecting me to turn around and walk back out so fast? I could have thrown him off, or he could have tripped when he turned around to catch me. Maybe I slipped right through his fingers.

I'm not saying you should stop trusting people; I just want you (and me!) to listen to your intuition. It exists for a reason. Humans are the only beings that will ignore their instincts. If a gazelle senses a lion stalking it in the jungle, it doesn't say 'I'm not going to run because I don't want to hurt the lion's feelings.' To the contrary, it runs like hell and doesn't stop until the danger is gone or it gets caught. But at least it tries to save itself.

That's all I'm asking you to do. Save yourself. You're worth saving.

Until next time,

Feed on love; subsist on peace.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Sensitive" People...of Color" target="_blank" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;">Embed from Getty Images

Crybaby. Punk. Soft. Weak. These are but a few of the names that I have been called in my lifetime because I was a sensitive person. I still am a sensitive person. Growing up in the African American community was difficult for a little girl like me. I was never told to "man up" like I suspect many sensitive little boys are, but certain respected members of my family have said that I have "soft" feelings and "God, what's wrong with you now?" Labeling you as a person with soft feelings is a polite way of saying you're weak. It's a way to gaslight you into believing that people should be able to say whatever mean, nasty thing they want to you, and you should endure it with a straight face and even laughter. They're just kidding, after all, and you should learn how to take a joke.

I was an awkward little kid. I never quite fit in with my classmates, the neighborhood kids, or even my family members. I didn't know why. I thought my uniqueness was something of which I should be ashamed. I was bullied and abused because I just wasn't the same as everyone else.  I tried so hard to fit in. I tried so hard in fact, that I began to hide that sensitivity from not only the world, but also from myself. I built a massive wall to protect me from the teasing, the name-calling, and the physical attacks. I developed a thick skin. That's what normal people do, I told myself. People will eat you alive if you show vulnerability. And black people? Forget about it. I might as well walk up to someone and ask them to kick my ass.

People of color, and of course I can only speak from my own experience as a black woman, have had to be strong for so long that any display of vulnerability is seen as weakness. We're not allowed to be sensitive. We're not allowed to be weak. Weakness, or even the appearance of weakness, is a disgrace to people of color. I cut myself so far off from my feelings and emotions, that it got to the point where I no longer knew how to show emotions. Sure, if someone died, I would cry. That was pretty much it, though. I got married, had babies, enjoyed beautiful experiences... and barely shed a tear.

Even though I built the protective wall, I could still feel so much. I felt deeply. Everything around me seemed to have its own energy, its own life (of course, I now know that everything does have its own energy). I could be having a wonderful day, then I'd walk into a room and be overwhelmed by all the feelings in that room. It would instantly change my mood because, at the time, I didn't know how to block and/or channel that energy into something positive. I didn't even know what that was; I had no name for it. Friends and family would call me 'moody,' and not knowing what to call it myself, I accepted that I was a moody person.

Every now and then, the pent up, denied energy would overwhelm me to the point of explosion. I would cry and not know why. I would be enraged and not understand what had happened to bring me to that point. When it was over, I would start the cycle all over again. The vicious, counter-productive cycle.

Then I met a woman, a white woman, who told me about what it means to be an empath. Her race is relevant because I could not, would not have sought out information like that from my own community for fear of being snubbed and looked down upon. I felt a tremendous weight lifted off of my shoulders. Empath. I finally had a name for the ability to feel other people's feelings like they were my own. Empath.

In the years since meeting that wonderful woman, I've become better at recognizing my feelings, differentiating between my own feelings and someone else's, and communicating my feelings with others. I'm not afraid to show my softer side. I no longer feel the need to be "hard."

There are some ways in which I've learned to honor and protect myself as an empath and I'd like to share them with you in the hopes that some struggling empath will benefit from them.

1. Spend some time alone. There are times when it's overwhelming to deal with both my own emotions and those of others. Spending some time with just yourself will give you a break from the many energies you encounter within a day's time. You might be surprised at how rejuvenating solitude can be.

2. Set boundaries. When you are spending time with yourself, make sure you set clear and firm boundaries that that time cannot be interrupted by anything short of a true emergency. You honor and respect yourself when you honor and respect your boundaries. And when you honor and respect your boundaries, others will, too.

3. Meditate. Meditating is not as daunting a task as you might think. Simply take some time to breathe, relax, and bring yourself back to the present moment. Sometimes, more often than not, I let my mind wonder. Problems seems to work themselves out that way. But if letting your mind wonder just stresses you out more, focus on bringing yourself back to the present moment each time you find yourself thinking of anything else. And breathe. Deep, slow, long, cleansing breaths. It might also help to play soft, relaxing music in the background.

4. Tune out. I no longer watch the news on television. It's so mired in negativity and hostility that I feel attacked when I watch it. When I feel attacked, my body reacts as if it's being attacked. When you're stressed, your body releases a myriad of chemicals and hormones to defend itself. Those hormones serve a purpose and are beneficial in the moment (if you're actually being attacked), but if you're in a constant state of "fight or flight," those substances stay in your body. That's not good. I know that you probably like to know what's going on in the world, and that's fine. Everything in moderation. You don't have to tune out completely, just be mindful of how much chaos you allow into your psyche.

5. Spend time with positive people. This is sometimes easier said than done. Chances are, you work with or know someone who is an energy vampire. Energy vampires suck all the positive energy out of you and drain you dry. When they leave the room, you feel like all of your energy has left with them; you're exhausted. Some of these vampires might even be in your family. Well, you may be obligated to work with them or to perform family duties with them, but your free time? That's all yours. You get to spend that with whomever you want. Make good choices about the company you keep.

These are a few simple things that help me navigate this big, wide world of emotions, and I hope you will find them helpful in your life. It's entirely possible to be protective of yourself and yet remain open to possibilities and experiences. It's all about balance.

Are you an empath? How do you honor and protect yourself? What challenges have you faced being an empath of color? Share in the comments. Let's get the dialogue started so that empaths no longer have to feel alone.

Until next time,

Feed on love, subsist on peace.

***Author's note: If you are someone who suffers from bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, this article is not for you. Please seek the help of a licensed psychotherapist and/or psychiatrist. In the Baltimore area, you can click here for resources.

***Author's second note: This post was inspired by a wonderful woman who did a video about being a black empath. Her video spoke to my very soul and I wanted to link her to this post, but of course, I wanted to get her permission first. It's such a humbling and beautiful experience to find like-minded souls in this world. Please visit Ifasina TaMeicka Clear and show her some love.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Breaking the Pattern

Good day, friends.

It's been awhile since we've spoken. Some of you have, no doubt, moved on to bigger and better things. Congratulations! You absolutely deserve it. Me? Well, I've been doing the same things I'd spoken to you about before I last left you. I'm one course and a dissertation away from getting my doctoral degree in Metaphysical Humanistic Science. That means I'm one step closer to what I believe is my true purpose in this lifetime.

I didn't come here to talk about me, though. Well, not just me.

Today, I found myself in a funk. Something happened in my life that upset me so much that I wanted to revert to some old habits. One of my go-to old habits was emotional eating. The pattern was: let someone upset me > completely disregard any progress I've made > eat everything in sight. I would tell myself, in that moment, that I didn't care whether I got fat or not. Who cares that I feel better when I eat better? Who cares that I don't have bouts of IBS when I don't eat meat? (TMI, I know) Who cares? There I was: all prepared to eat healthy snacks and a healthy lunch, but in that moment, all I wanted... was cake. Or pie. Or Doritos. Or, God help me, McDonald's fries.

If I followed the old pattern, I would be upset in the moment, I would eat everything and then afterward, the next moment, I would feel horrible. In the next moment I would care, but by then, it was too late. On top of being upset by whatever  had triggered my binge-eating, I would then also be upset with myself for the binge-eating I'd done. My self-esteem would dip really low; and the cycle would continue.

Not today, though. Today, I saw that old, ugly pattern breaking through the surface and I recognized it for what it was. I asked myself, why am I letting someone else control how I feel about myself? If you think about it, that's exactly what was happening. I allowed someone to upset me (that was my first mistake), I then internalized that pain as something that I deserved to feel, then I turned that pain against myself, which would have manifested as an eating binge. Sure, I know that people can take you to horrible, emotional places. I recognize that we are human, and we will sometimes not be in a place to handle emotional warfare. I get it. But I also get that once you let someone anger or upset you, you have handed over your power to them. You're essentially saying, "Here, you control me for a little while."

Now, everyone who's read this blog even once, probably knows that I have control issues. Trust me, I'm working on it, but it's an on-going process as you well know. The fact that I have issues giving others control is the very thing that should stop me from handing control of my emotions to anyone, especially people who have no impact on my existence.

So, I came here today to ask you, to implore you to take your power back. Ask yourself if you're letting others control how you feel about you. It's called self- esteem for a reason. The only person impacting it should be you. When someone upsets you, when you're experiencing emotional difficulty, acknowledge your feelings in this moment, then do what you need to do to get to the next moment. And once you get to the next moment, do something to nurture yourself so that you maintain your progress, your sanity, your self-love. What you do in that next moment could change the course of your life. Or it could keep you stagnant in old habits that you wished you'd given up a long time ago.

What did I do? I reached into the fridge for my carrot sticks and hummus. And I didn't hate myself afterward.

Until next time,

Feed on love, subsist on peace.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Hurting Nation

A nation is hurting today. Even those who believe that justice prevailed in the case of Trayvon Martin's murder are hurting. And they don't even know it. You see, nobody wins in a society where human life, any human life, is devalued. Nobody wins when "my" life is more valuable than "yours."

Many people are angry right now. Understand that anger is a secondary emotion. Nobody is born angry. The natural disposition of the human race is happiness. Then tragedies happen, travesties happen, hell, bad hair days happen and we allow ourselves to be knocked off our naturally happy journeys.

So no, anger is not primary. Anger happens usually as a result of fear. Take the situation that is upon us. Think about your own reaction to the not guilty verdict. Why are you angry? I'll tell you why I'm angry: because I'm scared out of my mind. I'm scared that my sons could be killed and no one would care. I'm scared that my sons will believe that their lives are expendable. I'm scared that my sons will grow up jaded and believe that no matter what they do, no matter what they accomplish, it will never be good enough. I'm scared that my sons' lives are irrelevant to those that would have them die untimely and senseless deaths.

I'm scared.

So I am angry because I know none of that is true, and I can't fathom a world where others don't know that, too. I'm also angry because I live in that unfathomable world.

But the anger is not what matters here; it's how we choose to channel that anger that matters. I choose to hug my sons (and daughters) and tell them emphatically that their lives matter; to look into their eyes and tell them that they are relevant and important and loved.

I choose peace. I choose love. I choose life.

What do you choose?

Be comforted by the knowledge that only light can smother darkness. Only love can triumph over hate. And Karma...well...that lady's a bitch.

Until next time,
Feed on love, subsist on peace, and hug your babies.

Mrs. Hyde