Desperate Measures

Picture of a cute, curly haired, read-headed boy

What if I was never allowed to be? What if intertwining histories, blessed circumstances and two souls from two different worlds decided not to meet?

What if they feared what shade my melanin could be?

So this is what I think when I hear “You don’t look mixed enough.”

You don’t exist

You are not one of us

You do not belong.

Who gave you permission to dismantle an entire life with five words?

I wonder how someone I don’t even know think they have the power to erase the entire existence of my mother, my grandfather and their people.

You are calling into question the love, the effort, the tears, the blood, the hardships it took to raise a mixed baby, at a time when fitting into more than one ethnic category was “unnatural.”

I am just as human as anyone, but when I stare into the mirror, past my full lips and curly hair, I wonder just what “Not Black enough” really means to the ones claiming. I certainly was Black enough all those times I was called “Nigger.”

So if I am too much or too little of anything to you, maybe go back and recheck your method of measurement. Because I am just the color, size and mixture God intended.

I wish instead of “What are you mixed with?” the question was “How thoughtful are you?” or “How good is your heart?”

I am human. I am whole. Please see me. There are many parts that make me, me and they’re all relevant.

If He didn’t see me fit to be created, I would not be here.

 

 

Unfinished.

An attractive and sultry woman blowing smoke seductively into the atmosphere.

Words left unsaid

Ends left untied

Things fallen by the wayside.

 

I wish the broken could be unbroken.

I wish my heart could mend.

I wish my soul could unbend.

 

Instead, I am battered, twisted saddened and torn

 

I wish the hurt didn’t hurt.

I wish tears would be un-cried.

 

I wish I could be left unfinished

I wish there was nothing left to fix.

Doubt

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It manifests as a gnawing little voice in my head saying, “Not today.”

Doubt grabs me by the throat and pins me down like an abusive lover. It keeps me up at night, kills my dreams and invades my space.

Doubt distracts me with many shiny things.

Doubt makes the monsters and demons inside my head come to life. Doubt is nothing compared to bumps in the night and scary shadows in the corner.

Doubt is me constantly hitting the snooze button on life. Doubt whispers “You can’t do this” in my ear. Doubt is the second guessing and believing the peanut gallery in my head and their unsolicited opinions.

I hate doubt, but it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever been in- doubt is a loyal companion.

Doubt rehashes a painful past and makes the future seem impossible. Doubt dumps out all the puzzle pieces on the floor and scatters them into a mess.

Doubt is a looming creature and makes itself seem larger than life.

Doubt is the thick fog I must wade through every morning for me to get to my intended path. Doubt creates shortcuts that lead to dead ends.

Doubt is a no good son-of-a-bitch, but I keep going back to it.

Doubt tricks its prey into believing it’s an idol- something to be praised.

Doubt attached itself to me like an aura and now, it’s time to shed this skin.

I was programmed to doubt myself. I learned to be the understudy and not the leading lady.

But if there’s one thing that doubt has taught me, it’s that every moment spent insisting that I can’t, is a moment stolen away.

I’m tired of giving my life away for free.

I realized that doubt was not my friend and I stopped believing the lies it told.

It loosened its chokehold.

Sometimes it gets the best of me, but most of the time things are as they seem and I don’t see my world with doubt colored glasses.

Be Bold.

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I tried the laid back, quiet thing. It just never worked out. The demur thing- you know, the thing that all the guys like. I tried to be the kind of girl that didn’t curse like a sailor or make weird faces or noises. That kind that didn’t recite entire film scenes. The kind that didn’t yelled at the screen in movie theaters or laugh a little too loudly in a silent room. The kind that could restrain herself from yelling greetings loudly when she saw a familiar face from across the street, clapping wildy in the middle of operas or performing unsolicited impressions of my favorite accents and characters.

I assumed that when I started meditating, I would become one of those cool, sexy calm girls. One of those girls that wasn’t spastic- like me.

I am in-your-face, opinionated, bubbly, boisterous, sometimes annoying and unapologetically seen and heard.

Somewhere along the way, I think I forgot that. I started to shrink myself into a size that I thought would be more palatable to those who were easily intimidated. I found myself stepping down to their level. I was becoming less of me and more of what I thought “they” thought I “should be.”

I used to have the most wonderful posture growing. As a dancer, I was taught to hold myself upright, with a straight back, long neck- I would imagine sometimes that the top of the head could scrape the ceiling of the tallest building. I would inadvertently command attention when I walked into a room. People would often tell me that they didn’t even notice that I was short sometimes- because of my “big” personality.

A few months ago, I was scrolling through some recent pictures that people had taken of me. I noticed my shoulders were completely hunched over, as if I was deflated.

Was I trying to make myself smaller than I actually was? How many times have we all decided to send in our representative and not the true selves? The Alternative us? How many times have we taken on another person’s insecurities on and decided it would be better to dial it down a few notches so as not to outshine them? I thought of all the ways I tried to dumb myself down, to not be too funny or bite my tongue when I thought I was garnering too much attention. To be perfectly transparent, I was becoming ashamed of my magnificence.

I learned that meditation doesn’t flatten you out- it makes you 3D. Now meditation is teaching me to be more of myself- to not shy away from my naturally gregarious demeanor. If I could not present my true, magnetic self, that meant that I could not also expect others to be fully truthful with me.

I have dumbed myself for too long. I would no longer be the shrunken down version of myself. My colors would be full, vibrant, palpable and loud. And if you can’t handle me, that is your problem to figure out and not mine. Give yourself permission to stand taller than tall. 

I don’t want to live a faded life anymore.

I will be bold. That is all. ❤

When Things Fall Apart

 

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I don’t measure my success by how happy I am. Life is easy when you’re happy, with not a care in the world. The caliber of my growth is evident in how I handle the challenges.

The joy I feel now intrinsically has always been a shining beacon waiting on the horizon for me and I thought it would be the end of my journey. What I would learn, is that my ability to hold grief, sadness, anger and doubt would be proof that I truly have the power to overcome my own negative conditioning.

In the moment where I am consumed with negative self talk or overwhelmed with sadness, meditation gives me the room I need to take a breath, feel my feet on the ground and remember that everything is ok in this moment. In this moment, I am safe, I am valuable and there is no need to listen to everything my mind tells me.

But what about when things are not ok? The times when you can’t get a grip and life slips from your fingers like a runaway balloon. When things fall apart, how do you find your way back to neutral?

The easiest thing for me to remember is that it’s alright to be sad and that things don’t go our way all the time. How silly would it be for me to think I am except from life’s ills? To be explicit, on the days I wake up with a lump in my throat and heaviness in my heart, I have found a way to continue on with my day, acknowledging and nurturing my sadness, caring for it- and knowing its impermanence.

The drastic difference between how I grieved at 16 and even 26 and now, are worlds apart. When my father died, I allowed myself to melt into my grief- in other words, I became sadness, instead of allowing sadness to be present. I didn’t know that I could go on living while grieving. I also did not know the sadness wouldn’t always be there.

Yes, this too shall pass. There is a reason that age old statement exists. If anything, know that nothing is permanent.

Now at 33, I sit in the aftermath of a beloved cat that passed away, a near death experience with my dog and the death of an unborn child, all in a span of a few months, I see my meditation practice hard at work. I watch my grief come in waves and when my grief is the mood of the moment, I hold space for it and breathe. I watch joy arise and I hold space for that as well. I know that it’s all the same and attachment to either emotion only fuels the suffering.

When things fall apart, remember- joy, sadness, grief and abundance- all of it will fade away.

And even we: laughing, breathing, living beings will eventually become ash and dust.

Mind Flux

I decided to give this dude a try. I’m not materialistic, but an unkempt car that’s on it’s way to jalopy status lets me know you’re not where you want to be in life. But I let that go. One … Continue reading

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Angel DarwinIt took me months to be able to put this into words. And I’m still not sure how to make the pieces fit. I never imagined my life without any of my pets. You’re not supposed to have favorites when it comes to your fur babies, but Darwin was it for me. He had my heart from the moment he crawled into lap in the Honolulu Humane Society kitten enclosure. He was the one climbing up the mesh walls and couldn’t figure out how to get down. I should have known this would be an indication of antics to come over the next six years. Darwin had the most endearing personality of any animal I’ve ever met. Silly, mischievous, mellow and gentle. Every friend I had that met him loved him- including the ones that hate cats. He was just a cool fella, who at barely 4 months old, somehow ended up on the doorsill of my Oahu cottage while I was at work and would be stuck there until I came home.

Darwin was the perfect puzzle piece in my jigsaw life and I never knew I could miss a tiny creature so much. He loved to dart outside when no one was looking and roll around in the grass and sit under the shade of the evergreens in our front walkway in Los Feliz. I remember the night I woke up with my gut telling me he wasn’t in the house. I looked all over for him and even begged my room mates to look under every bed and inside every closet or dresser drawer in their rooms. He was nowhere and my heart sunk to my feet. Feeling completely numb and helpless, I looked outside for him for hours- walking up and down our block, on the main intersection an entire block down the street. Dejected, I walked back into my house, knowing he was somewhere out there. Something brought me, practically pushed me back outside to look one more time and there he was, hiding under a neighbor’s car. He meowed with his tiny little voice and ran into my arms.

In that moment, I took I for granted that he would always come back to me. I held him tight, whispering “thank you, thank you” over and over has his soft purrs rolled across my chest.

Cut to: June 7th 2016. Darwin has been dead for some months now. I probably will never able to write in detail the events leading up to his passing, but it was painful. Apart from my parents’ passing, one if the most breathtakingly, astonishingly painful things I have endured in my lifetime.

I would give anything to go back to that night I searched the streets for two hours for him- at least I knew he was alive.

I held my baby boy as he took his last breath. It was the only gift I could give him in his final moment of need. I kissed him and sniffed his fur, attempting to remember his scent forever.

The sadness was its own life form. It had a taste, a texture, a sound that pierced the air around me and sat on me like the weight of the entire Earth- no, the universe.

There was a life that was cut short and as a Buddhist, I was taught to take death as a part of life, but nothing can convince me that it was his time. Not yet. I should have known sooner that he was sick.

I should have and could have done so many things, but I didn’t. I thought I had time.

I miss him so much my heart breaks and mends and breaks again every single day. I could cry an entire ocean and it would not be enough.

My living gift to him, is to not let the sadness win, but to let compassion and determination grow from the pile of rubble that was left at my feet when he passed. I will water it with wisdom and let hope be its sunlight ❤

The Anatomy of Pain

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Grief.

Pain has a way of changing things.

I woke up that morning, as the owner of four pets- animals I had loved with unguarded care for a least a number of years, each.

I completely missed that moment everything shifted- now thinking back, there were several moments I should have known that life would not be the same.

I left the apartment that after noon, as a the owner of a cat who seemed suddenly ill, realizing that the feeling in her gut that her 6-year-old Darwin seemed more lethargic than usual. As I hauled my 13LBS big boy down the hallway toward the elevator, frantic, but in too much shock to let my thoughts sink in, I realized I hadn’t seen him eat in days.

I think deep down, I knew Darwin wouldn’t survive long and that’s why he was my favorite. The awkward exchange I had with the volunteer worker at the Honolulu ASPCA, where I fist met and fell in love with my Darwin- he was the only one climbing up the mesh walls of the kitten enclosure and was almost at the top, was an omen. She asked if I wanted to get him tested for feline leukemia and that I could always “give him back if he ends up having it.” I said, “Hell no!” How could she not understand that I fell in love with him and nothing would change that? I handed her my $40 for the adoption fee and schlept my new kitten home.

I walked back in to my apartment days later, with an empty crate that I refused to wash until two months later, because I didn’t want to wash his smell out of it. Knowing full well, that that would be my first 8a without him, my first cup of coffee without him and that I didn’t know whether my other cats and dog were also missing him and wondering where he was. I fell onto my bed in a fetal position and sobbed- my entire body convulsing uncontrollably. I wept until I was empty, then fell asleep.

One of the most awful things about losing someone or something you cherish, is those first waking moments the day after it has happened. The immediate confusion, the pang in your chest, the lump in your throat, the churning of your stomach and nerves- the knowing. I woke up and for a brief moment, thought I had dreamt  it and reality rushed in like a title wave. I sat in my bed just staring, letting the sorrow pulsate through my body and permeate the room. I had not felt this much grief since my mom died two and a half years prior. The sunlight in  my studio apartment changed, the air suddenly was heavy and oppressive.

There was the last place Darwin curled up like a little fluff ball to nap. There was the last place he let me scratch his chin while he purred. There was the last place he scooted a glass bowl off the counter and watched it fall to the ground. There was the last place he sat, gazing at the view outside the north-facing window- my grief was taking on a life of its own.

He was not going to come back and nothing felt the same.

Sadness has a way of coloring things. It was beginning to wash over every moment with watercolor blue. But what happens when we turn toward and accept sorrow’s tight grip on the heart? What happens when we let it be?

I soon discovered my inner strength- with a heavy heart, I got up and went to work, with tears streaming down my face I relaxed and watch tv, with a heaviness in my throat I would cook dinner, but was living nonetheless. Living, with a hole in my life, which I held, cared for and gave space- then set free.

The true colors are cautiously seeping back in. A wetted paint brush sets its strokes across the canvass, chasing the blue back to the edges of the page. And everyday, the pain is a little less ❤

 

❤  In loving memory of Darwin ❤

Earl Grey & Green

A photo of a child playing with an airplane.

A child with imagination has wings.

It was only a cup of tea, but I stood there- allowing the steam to curl up in to my nostrils.

It was green tea, the same kind we used to drink after our “Happy Family” meal- pops and I, from our favorite Chinese restaurant. I am taken back to the night sky and my view from the backseat of our powder blue Chevrolet, winding through neighborhood streets, across the bridge and finally, I catch a glimpse of the Portland Convention Center- that’s always how I knew it would be Chinese for dinner.

After the meal, pops would order green tea, “Two cups?” the waitress would ask, “Two cups,” my father would respond. I made mine with lots of brown sugar, “Never with Sweet n’ Low” my father would demand, poured into a tiny white cup. The warmth, the sweetness.

Then, I am taken across the Atlantic to our annual Thanksgiving trek to the Hyde Park Hotel. Black tea with a pour or two of milk and three packets of cane sugar. I can still feel the excitement, jumping on the hotel room beds, not being able to sleep the night before seeing Big Ben, a red double decker bus or Buckingham Palace. I miss everything about those days. Days that I took for granted.

These are memories. They are mine. I am allowed to have them, but I will not live inside of them. I can remember good things that happened to me as long as I know where I am going.

Whenever I take a sip of tea- earl grey or green, I can travel back in time, for a moment and then come right back, with my feet on the ground, a cup in my hand – in the present moment.

Scars

painting of a girl looking out of a window

Scars can heal.

I’ve carried them around for as long as I can remember. In a way, they were my first tattoos- strategically placed, deeply felt, they told the world my story.

My scars revealed my journey- one that has been hard, painful and heartbreaking at times. I used to run my fingers over the nape of my neck, feeling for when my skin changed from smooth, to jagged and rough around the edges of the remnants of being thrown against the corner of a bed. The wondering why I deserved it, listing reasons why I surely did deserve it, the tears, the bruises, the yelling, the screaming, the feeling of defeat- it would come flooding back and fill my heart and mind with blackness and things that couldn’t be changed.

Along the way, my perspective transformed. I stopped dwelling on the pain and realized there was strength. I had to start thinking of myself as a survivor, instead of a victum- which meant the meaning of these scars had to change.

Like my tattoos, my scars illustrate my courage. They are beautiful and well earned. I’ve fought long and hard for them and I wear them well. I have accepted them as a part of my history- a history I wouldn’t give back for the world.

I wear them with pride and when I tell the story of how they came to be, I hold my head high. I didn’t choose to be abused, but I did choose to endure.